The Embroiderers' Guild - 100 years of achievement

The full story of the first 100 years of the Guild is available as a download. It is a fascinating story and we are indebted to Past Chairman, Chris Berry, for her work in compiling this account.


On 12 January the Society of Certificated Embroideresses was founded by 16 graduates of the Royal School of Art Needlework with the aim "to deal entirely with embroidery and with the first object of keeping up a high standard of work and design". Membership was only open to those holding a teaching diploma and the two years' certificate of the Royal School of Art Needlework. This was widened in 1907 and anyone could apply for Membership by submitting embroidery for assessment by a panel of judges.


100-years-of-achievement.jpgAfter a temporary cessation of activities during WW1 eight Members reconvened in 1920 and changed the name to the Embroiderers' Guild. With only £10 and no premises they started a library and assembled portfolios made available for loan. In 1924 Queen Mary became a Royal Patron and presented the Guild with embroideries from all over the world. The Worshipful Company of Broderers became Vice Patrons in 1928 and other donors presented historical embroideries.



The first Branch was established in 1931 to carry out the work of the Guild by organising events for Members in their area. Embroidery was first published in December 1932 with two issues per year.


In 1934 The Guild was incorporated under the Companies Act and recognised as a non-profit making organisation. The qualifying entrance exam was also dropped. 1935 saw a representative from the Guild sitting on the Examination Board of the City & Guilds of London Institute and a year later a Diploma for Judges (of embroidery) was awarded. Embroidery became a School Certificate subject in 1938 with the syllabus drawn up by the Embroiderers' Guild, an annual schools competition was set up at both Junior and Senior level. In 1939 a fiveday course on embroidery was held for teachers.


1960s.jpgIn 1960 the Guild leased a house in Wimpole Street with funds raised by 16 Branches and 3,370 Members. In 1965 the Duchess of Gloucester became the Guild's Patron.


an embroidery

In the late 1970s the Guild applied to the Lord Chamberlain for space at Hampton Court Palace. This was granted but renovations did not begin until Lord Inverforth became President of the Guild in 1979. At this time the collection was allegedly housed in rooms above a chip shop.


1980s.jpgThe new offices at Hampton Court were officially opened in 1981 and a curator was employed to look after the collection. There were 79 Branches and 6,500 Members. Membership increased rapidly and in 1986 the Branches were organised into seven Regions. In 1989 the Guild became a registered museum and now holds in trust a collection of over 11,000 embroideries from around the world.


Stitch magazine

Stitch with the Embroiderers' Guild Magazine was founded in 1999 and is published six times a year. In 1996 Embroidery Magazine increased to six issues per year, having been four per year since 1950.



The Embroiderers' Guild has over 22,000 Members and subscribers throughout the UK and abroad, 195 Branches and 55 Young Embroiderers Groups.

As the UK's leading crafts association and educational charity, the Guild offers a comprehensive programme of contemporary exhibitions, workshops, City & Guilds courses, lectures and tours (UK & overseas) and much more!

work by young embroiderers

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