The 1891 signature quilt
When I first saw this old quilt I was very excited to handle such a precious old item. Having previously seen many signature quilts, this one was very unusual in that it had an overall appliqué design with the signatures making up the pattern. The members in 1891 paid to have their names embroidered on the quilt and Mrs Robinson did the embroidery.
This raised £55 in aid of the Trinity Trust Bazaar.
The quilt was exhibited at the Wesleyan Centenary Bazaar on April 29th 1891. It was then purchased by Mr. J. Simpson and presented to the Frodsham Wesleyan Circuit. For many years it has been lovingly looked after by Mrs. Ruth Caldwell and was recently included in an exhibition at Frodsham Methodist Church for all to see.
However, it was felt that the quilt should now be preserved in a suitable museum, so in April Ros Caldwell and I took it to the Englesea Brook Museum just south of Nantwich. The museum is tucked away in a very small village and looks like an old red brick Victorian farm house. The large arched window to the right of the building hints of something different.
We were welcomed by Margaret Veal, the Education officer, who made us a hot drink. Whilst drinking, we watched a very interesting video about the museum, followed by a look around. The museum tells the story of the founders of Primitive Methodism, Hugh Bourne and William Clowes. It also has the largest collection of religious banners in the country and they are all very interesting, giving us an insight into lives in the 19 century.
We then unrolled the quilt and spread it out over the pews for Margaret and Stephen Hatcher to see. They were overwhelmed when they saw it - they had never seen another like it and were eagerly reading the signatures. We explained that there are still many people with the same family names in Frodsham today. Having told them
the story of the quilt we rolled it up and they said that they were interested in having it, but this had to be confirmed at a meeting and they would let us know in due course.
Margaret showed us photos of a wedding dress exhibition they had held, and said that the quilt would be used for display and education in a similar manner. Very soon afterwards we heard that they would love to keep the quilt and the papers were signed to hand over ownership to the museum.
The quilt is now in the safe hands of a registered museum which has the knowledge to preserve it for posterity. We can highly recommend a visit to this fascinating little museum.
If you would like to visit Englesea Brook Museum, you can find out more at their website: www.engleseabrook-museum.org.uk
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