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Read more about the creation of the tapestry below.
The tapestry was started in the summer of 1999 and completed in October 2000 as part of the Aldworth Millennium celebrations. It was dedicated by the (then) vicar Rev Mark Mills-Powell on 26th November 2000, since when it has hung in St Mary's Church for all to enjoy.
In the spring of 1999, Heather Macaulay of The Bell Inn formed a committee in order to raise funds and organise the various events to celebrate the Millennium, and every household in the village was contacted and asked to make suggestions. One of these, by Heather's husband Ian, was for a tapestry. Reasearch was taken by committee members into other recent and not so recent tapestries, and Sarah Thomas was asked to see if she could find someone who would be willing to undertake the design, which was to incorporate as many features as possible from a list drawn up by the committee. The first person she contacted was Tony Driver, a retired art teacher from Upper Basildon who much to everyone's delight offered to undertake the task himself.
Tony produced a full size initial sketch and after minor adjustments the final coloured artwork. While the result could not incorporate every suggestion, let alone every event of historic interest in the last thousand years, it does nevertheless cover many of them together with a selection of the buildings and landmarks which are still of interest today. Tony was the only non-Aldworth parishioner, past or present, involved with the project and yet he, like everyone else, gave his services free – Aldworth owes him an enormous debt of gratitude.
The parish of Aldworth comprises 108 households and nearly 300 people of all ages, and is made up of the village itself and the outlying hamlets of Westridge Green, Pibworth and Starveall, together with houses such as de la Beche and Fayleys, and Bower, Woodrows and Warren farms. At all stages, members of the parish were invited to join in the sewing, and the five pieces which make up the final tapestry were kept circulating around the village on a strict timetable. In addition, several open mornings were held in the Village Hall, when people of all ages came along to add a few (or maybe more) stitches. Heather Macaulay also held tea parties at The Bell, to which she invited ex-Aldworth parishioners so that they too could participate. There cannot be many Aldworth residents who did not add at least a few stitches!
The work on the tapestry was largely co-ordinated and sewn by Sarah Thomas and Lily Rennie, who also assembled the five sections to make the whole we see now, together with help from the other committee members Ann Disney, Julie Heel and Mary Iliffe, and a significant contribution from Peter Robinson.
Finished canvas size 45"x29".
Canvas is 14 threads per inch, worked on frames.
Appletons crewel wool was worked using three strands at a time to give maximum cover. The three strands were often mixed to give good shading.
The main stitch was tent stitch, particularly on the border; on the centre panel a wide selection of other stitches was also used.
As will be appreciated, the tapestry is not a true perspective of the layout of the village, but rather a montage of some of the elements which go to make up the parish of Aldworth.
Everything incorporated in the tapestry is there because it happens somewhere within the parish boundary. For instance, every attempt has been made to show the diversity of the agricultural scene with the depiction of ploughing, ripening corn and harvesting. Various crops are shown including wheat and barley, linseed (the blue fields) and rape (the bright yellow) together with pigs, sheep and cows. Also included are some of the leisure activities associated with the area, and if you look closely there are walkers, horse riders, a hot air balloon, children with skipping ropes and even playing conkers.
Family life is shown by various groups of people including outside the pub and the shop, and in the case of the church, the vicar is shown greeting a group of parishioners outside St Mary's.
The flora and fauna called for in the design include a pheasant, an owl, a bat and the peacock at Westridge House, as well as poppy, cow parsley, foxglove, scabious, celandine, harebell, honeysuckle, red campion, daisy, wild thyme and dog rose. The butterflies suggested were comma, red admiral, holly blue and small copper, though in some cases their representation is more successful than in others!
The Aldworth Tapestry 2000 was designed by Tony Driver, and sewn by Sarah Thomas, Lily Rennie, Ann Disney, Julie Heel, Mary Iliffe, Peter Robinson and the parishioners of Aldworth.
The text on this page is taken primarily from notes about the tapestry compiled by David Thomas, with his permission.
The Tapestry was commissioned and paid for by the Aldworth Millennium Celebration Group, chair Heather Macaulay.