The Beautiful Stitch:Textile Treasures of the Embroiderers' Guild

The Embroiderers’ Guild was formed in 1906 with the aim of raising technical and design standards in British embroidery. It did this by collecting examples of old and foreign stitch work which Guild members could use to inspire and inform their own practice.

Today the Guild’s collection numbers nearly ten thousand items - ranging from small stitched fragments to large hangings – and is considered a nationally important collection of world costume and textiles.

In 2016, the Embroiderers’ Guild moved its collection to Bucks County Museum on long-term loan. Since then, Museum staff and volunteers have been busy behind the scenes preparing the collection so that it may be made fully accessible for the public to enjoy: through exhibitions, an online database, stores tours and more.

Headwear from Afghanistan

The Embroiderers’ Guild Textile Collection is an exciting record of embroidery from the 16th century onwards and is worldwide in its content from Britain through Europe to Asia and beyond. Ranging in date from Coptic times to the present day and gathered from around the world, these embroideries give insight into how embroidery has been made and used in the past and present cultures around the globe.

Items from this unique and inspiring collection form the basis of the first permanent exhibition in the newly refurbished Beryl Dean Gallery at Bucks County Museum. The exhibition focuses on the diverse and ever-changing nature of embroidery across time and place, and will include some of the finest and more unusual pieces from the Guild’s stunning collections of historical and contemporary embroidery.

Highlights include an exquisite ceremonial robe, richly embroidered the "sacred cloud" or "wand" motif as well as phoenixes and dragons embroidered with Japanese gold thread. Also on display is a beautiful linen stomacher, embroidered with a flower motif tied with a bow; worked in green, yellow and cream coloured silk threads against a background of metal threads couched in a meandering pattern to imitate quilting. But the star of the show is surely a stunning display of some of our most eye-catching hats!

Come along and see some of the treasures we hold within our wonderful textile collection.

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