Monday 18 January 2010

Whitby Museum Sampler Catalogue on CD - and Sampler Curator Wanted

Whitby Museum is one of my favourite museums and I make a point of visiting at least once a year. Located on the North Yorkshire coast, Whitby was once a busy whaling port and port of departure for Captain Cook, how could I not love it. (Queue at the Magpie for probably the best fish and chips in the world.) In the museum I have held in my very hand a narwhal tusk, said to be the inspiration for the unicorn; consulted the Tempest Prognosticator, powered by leeches; and smiled at the Jurassic dinosaur embedded in the wall on the diagonal because someone got the measurements wrong: it should have been displayed horizontally. But with all our faults we, too, can surely incline ourselves at an angle to the universe, eyes on the stars. The Museum is home also to around 90 samplers, the earliest of which is the one here by Abiah Dickinson dated 1714. A chart of this sampler is available direct from the museum.

I thought you might be interested to see this Quaker by Ann Lister of 1790. We have no idea at present where Ann spent her life - perhaps someone knows something of her. Again a hand-drawn chart for this sampler is available to purchase from the Museum.

I am also intrigued by this Quaker sampler by Betty Carr, it is very much like the York and Ackworth text samplers. Campsall is near Doncaster in the south of Yorkshire, but is somewhat of a mystery still - any help would be so useful.

And finally, one couldn't leave without a glance of a Whitby girl's sampler. All the Sampler Collection at Whitby is available on CD direct from the museum. The catalogue is in Word format and the images are adequate for study. Again for £10 plus P&P it will not break the bank. If you live nearby, the Museum may be interested to hear from you as they were short of a Sampler Curator the last time I spoke to the Registrar.


  1. I visited Whitby Museum about 5 years ago to look at the samplers. I seem to remember that not all the samplers were on show due to lack of space. The money raised from the sale of the hand charted patterns goes to restoring the sampler collection. So even if you don't get round to doing the needlework you have helped to save another sampler.

  2. I love Whitby and have been there often but have never managed to visit the museum there.
    I wonder if Betty Carr could have been educated at home instead of attending a Quaker school. But I'll do some research on this as well as Ann Lister to see if I can find out anything.
    I note too that Abiah Dickinson is also from a Quaker family and hard to believe from the strong beautiful colours that this sampler is nearly 300 years old!

  3. Your research is so helpful - thank you very much!