A Needlework Challenge.

embroideryawvFor the 2012 Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, Fifield made a needlepoint wall hanging depicting life in Fifield through the ages, with representations of things in the parish that locals considered special. The work took two years and the Stitchers – as they call themselves – thoroughly enjoyed it, both for itself and for making new friendships. Cllr Richard Langridge of West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC made a generous grant towards materials for the work) dedicated the work, and a letter, explanatory booklet and photograph were sent to Buckingham Palace. Lady Susan Hussey wrote a delightful letter of thanks on behalf of the Queen.

For a while the Stitchers had other things to do, but soon wanted another challenge. They decided to follow in the old tradition of adorning their local church with needlework, and planned a wall hanging for the Church of St John the Baptist, which would show his life from birth to death. But instead of just making a wall hanging, they decided that it should look exactly like a stained glass window, with central mullion, colour edging to echo the actual stained glass windows in the church and a surround to look like stone. The blank west wall of the church was chosen to site it. Once again WODC made a generous contribution towards buying materials, and little by little the design was planned. Six scenes were chosen: Zechariah hearing the Angel (Lynne Henderson); Naming of John (Jane Poulson); John preaching (Catherine Hitchens); John Baptising Christ (Vicky Orr-Ewing); Salomé Dancing (Lynne Freeman); and John’s head on the platter (Rosemary Alexander). The design of the gothic arch of the window was two small triangles: A locust (Tina Palmer) and a Honeycomb (Joyce Smith) with a central diamond shape showing a dove (Sue Ward). Lynne Freeman made all the mathematical calculations for the template of individual pictures

Knowing approval would be needed from the Parochial Church Council as well as from the Oxford Diocese, before the work could go in the church, the Diocesan Advisory Committee was approached and gave approval for a faculty to be sought. Early in 2015 the first stitch was set and work began. The 2012 Jubilee wall hanging is wool on 10-point canvas, but the stained glass window pictures are on 14-point canvas. Work on the pictures has been painstaking and careful; now the main ones are finished and the stitchers will soon start to attach them to the backing canvas before working the mullion, the stained glass and the stone surround. It is hoped the work will be dedicated in 2018 and will hang in the church of St John the Baptist, Fifield for many years to come.

Catherine Hitchens

August – September 2017