Wednesday 15 January 2014

The School of Stitchery & Lace, The Grange, Bookham, Surrey

The charity School of Stitchery and Lace in Leicestershire originated in 1927 when Miss Julia Sweet, a pioneer in the teaching and training of disabled people, founded the school to give nurses injured in the First World War a means of earning their living. The charity moved to Bookham in 1938 when new premises – originally a private house – was bought from the Bird family for £5000.

In the early years the charity offered three year’s training in needlework after which graduates went on to work at places such as Libertys and Harvey & Nicholls. Soon the students earned a reputation for exquisite workmanship and royal commissions followed. Queen Mary had 12 nightdresses and a bedspread made.
During the Second World War the army took over outbuildings around the main house. Weaving was suspended because materials became unobtainable although tapestry work continued. Students were employed in repairing military equipment and carpet mending was introduced. Laddered stockings came here for repair along with clothes that needed patching and shirts needing their collars replaced. A number of ex-trainees were employed in direct war work.

In the 1970s the name of the charity was changed to The Grange Centre to reflect a widening range of activities. The Grange became a Registered Care Home in the 1980s with the aid of funding from the Housing Corporation. At the same time a Housing Association was formed to provide sheltered accommodation in self contained flats for those able to live semi-independently. In the 1990s the charity expanding into horticulture, alongside needlework and crafts, and opened their doors to men as well as women. Miss Sweet's original idea was to give adults with disabilities the opportunity of vocational and educational training, so enabling them to become useful and independent citizens. This remains the basis of the charity's policy and philosophy today. If you would like to discover more about The Grange, click here.

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