Thursday, January 31, 2008

Queen Mary's Rug

This is my progress on Margaret Gibson. I really haven't got that far along over the last week or so as I have been trying to finish hand quilting a quilt that I started early last year. Hopefully I will finish it in about 2 weeks. Please God, I hope.

I thought I'd share with you some pictures from one of my favourite books from when I was a little girl. This book belonged to one of my Great Grandmothers and when she passed away I was given this book. I used to love to sit and go through it on rainy days. I think it has given me along with another similar book that was also given to me by another Great Grandmother the love of English and European Royalty and their history.

The very regal lady sitting below is Queen Mary. She was the wife of King George V and is the current Queen's Grandmother. A lot of people don't realise that she along with Mary Queen of Scots and Catherine of Aragon was also a great needleworker.

There were a few things in this beloved book that I always loved to check e.g. Queen Mary's Dollshouse (I will tell you about her dolls house in another blog)and Kensington Palace and also this incredible rug that she made. What is quite amazing about this rug is that she was 74 when she started it. She was born on the 26th May 1867. For history buffs her mother was the daughter of the Duke of Cambridge, the youngest son of George the Third. Her father was Prince Francis of Teck, son of the Duke Alexander of the kingdom of Wurttemberg.

Apparently Queen Mary was always a skilled and enthusiastic needlewoman and in 1941 she started work on a twelve panel needlepoint carpet when she was staying with her niece and her husband the Duke and Duchess of Beaufort at Badminton in Gloucester (it is apparently where she spent most of the war years).

The design was inspired by some eighteen-century tapestries in the V & A Museum and they were brought to her at Badminton. She did not follow the original colour scheme but made her own selection. Slowly the first panel began to take form and was finished in 1941 and put away in a drawer. In 1942 three more panels were worked. By 1944 ten panels had come from her needle.

She liked to work sitting in the sunshine on the lawn while one of the members of the household read her the newspapers. When the war came to an end the carpet had still to be finished. It was finished in the 1950.

In 1949 there was much excitement when it was announced that the Queen proposed to sell it to the highest dollar bidder, being her own personal contribution to the nation's export drive.

First of all it created long queues at the V&A where it was on display. It then went on a tour around the U.S.A. and Canada. In 1950 it was announced that a bid of 100,000 Canadian dollars had been accepted. The purchasers were the Imperial Order of Daughters of the Empire.

One of the requests from Queen Mary regarding where her rug should go was to a National Gallery and I believe it is hanging in the National Gallery in Ottawa, Canada. It is one of those things that I would love to see. I would love to see what colour choices she made.

This picture shows Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret insplecting the carpet while it was on display.

This one shows Mrs. Elanor Roosevelt admiring the carpet on its arrival in New York. It was sent to America in a specially designed stainless steel lined wooden chest.
The Royal cipher was embroidered on each panel.

Apparently she was quite an amazing woman. There was no public mention of where she was staying during the war, but there were alot of tales of her giving lifts to American soldiers around Badminton and of her attending a few baseball matches at their invitation. She was friendly will all the soldiers in the neighbourhood, unbending in a way perhaps that she had never done in her life before, and was always amused when they were incredulous at her identity. Apparently one U.S. soldier wrote to his parents in Massachusetts that he told her that he recognised her because he was a stamp collector, and she asked whether he thought it was a good likeness that used to be on the British stamps.


Suzanne said...

Sandra, that's really interesting. To think that Queen Mary stitched such an enormous piece. You would think that a queen would be much to busy to have time to complete a little needlework, let alone an entire rug. By the way, you Margaret Gibson piece is looking beautiful.

Aren't we having some entirely unpleasant stitching weather at the moment. It's so humid and oppressive and the air is so thick. I am taking a visit up to Karen's shop on Saturday morning to pick up a whole bunch of items I ordered, so I am looking forward to slightly cooler weather.

Suzanne said...

Sandra, I visited CHS earlier this week and saw the new design. The Shores of Hawk Run Hollow and have already added it to my wish list.

We haven't seen one storm this week. I think they disappear as they come over the mountains. I hope we get one today, we need a little cooling down.

lapplisor said...

Hi Sandra
Your marvelous work grows constantly... the colors speaks for itself!
Your explanation over this enormous stick work from Queen Mary, is outrageously interesting. This enormous work I would see also gladly into natura...
to meet we to us all in "Canada" :-) Greeting Barbara

Twinkle Pink said...

Hi there, thank you for visiting my blog, it's great to come across new blogs and I was very interested in this post.

It was really interesting to read about our own Queen Mary and her embroidery. I have a collection of royal books too and am particularly interested in the fashions. I missed out on an exhibition of royal wedding gowns at Kensington Palace ... I would have loved to have seen Queen Mary's or even the Queens.

Thanks for sharing.

best wishes Ginny

Itching To Stitch said...

Your Margaret Gibson piece is really nice. That was really interesting to read about Queen Mary stitching that rug. I would LOVE to see that rug. Even the black and white pic you posted is stunning ;)

Crazee4books said...

Hi Sandra,

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Queen Mary and her needlepoint work in your posting today. I've never heard about the carpet she made before. If ever I am in Ottawa I'll take a look through the National Gallery and see if I can find it. It would be interesting indeed to see it in person.

I have a biography of Queen Mary in my library. Can't think of the biographers name at the moment. It's been years since I read it.

Wasn't she suppose to marry the eldest son of King Edward and Queen Alexandra, but he died (he was suspected of being Jack the Ripper at one time and was not mentally competent) so she was married off to their second son, George.

I love English history and especially the history of the Royal family. I have a couple of old books on the Royals too. I think from the 1930's.

I'm trying to remember if I've ever seen Queen Mary's doll house in person. It's at Windsor Castle, and I've been through there twice. So I might have seen it. Oh dear, the old brain cells are failing me here.

The pictures of your Son's wedding
are lovely and even though it rained for it it looks like it was a wonderful day for all concerned. The bride looks beautiful in her gown, and the groom is quite the handsome fellow. :) Congratulations and much happiness to them both.

We're expecting another big winter storm here tomorrow. Up until now we've lucked out on all the major snow storms this winter. They've all been on the weekends when traveling was not as big an issue as it could have been. Not so for tomorrow's storm. It's due to begin overnight, but the brunt of it should hit just in time for the drive into work in the morning. Yipee Skippy!! We're suppose to get about 25 cm of snow (about 10 inches) and there may be freezing rain in the afternoon too. As you can imagine we're all just tickled pink about it.

Hope you can get the latest Father Tim book Home to Holly Springs. It was a lovely, peaceful, fun read. I do enjoy Jan Karon's books.


Twinkle Pink said...

Hi Sandra, I wish I had known about Queen Mary's embroidery skills a couple of years ago when I was studying British embroidery. I would love to have seen the finished rug too.

Yes I have seen the dolls house, it is stunning a little girls dream house:)

best wishes Ginny

Lucy Bloom said...

Hi Sandra, thank you for the lovely comment on my blog, yes the wind has died down, the sun is out again today beckoning me to take a walk but I must attend to matters indoors :-( Your needlework is beautiful, I don't know how you have the patience, I'm a quick and easy craftsperson! That book looks fascinating too, what a wonderful heirloom.
Have a good weekend,
Lucy x

Karen's Blog said...

I love reading yoru Blog sandra. You do the most amazing research. Your stitching is beautiful as always. sorry I was so busy when you popped in thursday. I had a splitting headache and so much to do. My headache got so bad that I almost had to close early. Hopefully we can have a good catch up chat soon:)

Anonymous said...

What a stunning sampler - great work!!! And thanks so much for the information, very interesting!!

Lenka said...

I would love to see it – what a beautiful rug, I newer even imagine somebody along can do it. What a women…
PS. Thank you for the good advice about French translation in Google – wow! I spent all night reading!

gillflower said...

hi sandra. just came across your blog about queen mary. my mom was evacuated to badminton estate in 1939. she remembers going gardening with other evacuees and queen mary. they had to pull the ivy down from trees on the estate as she had a dislike of it. mom said that she was a nice woman and not at all stern as her photos suggest. she gave my mom some silk gloves to use as gardening gloves and used to go out and about visiting workers cottages on the estate.if anyone has any photos of the queen with the evacuees or any idea where there may be some on recoord it would be great although i know it's a long shot after all this time

Anonymous said...

The carpet is now in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada, in Ottawa. You can see a photo of it here:

johnnie manckiy said...

4.Hi Gill,

I apologize for writing this way. My name is Johnnie Manckiy; I recently graduated from university with my BA in history. I am an American, but British history is my passion. I am especially interested in the histories of British country houses. One period I am working on is researching the role country houses played during World War Two. Most of my research on this subject has been on the use of country houses by evacuated schools. I am always interested to learn about new houses. I had known that Badminton was home to Queen Mary during the war, but I did not know that there were also evacuees there. I found this site

that says that the evacuees were from the Tindal Street School and there is a photo of a group of them with Queen Mary.

I would like to you a little more about me and how I became interested in country houses and their wartime histories. I first became interested in country houses during the war years after reading John Martin Robinsons “The Country House at War”. It left me wanting to know more, but as I soon discovered there was not as much published information as I had hoped for. To me the war years are an important part of the house of country houses throughout Britain, but this critical period is largely over looked in guidebooks and published histories of country houses. During my research I have had the honor to talk with many people across Britain about their war time memoires. Many people I have talked with have been surprised that a young man from America is interested in country houses and their wartime history. British history is passion. I recently graduated university with a degree in history. My long term goals are to make Britain my home. I would like to work for the National Trust either in England or at the Trust in Scotland at one of their country houses or possible at a private estate. Out of all the parts of Britain, Scotland is becoming my favorite. I also would like to publish a book or series of books on country houses during the war.

If it might be possible I would love to hear more about your mothers time at Badminton.

Thank you,

Johnnie Manckiy