The Quilters Guild of the British Isles

10 Jul

Moving away from my usual posts, I thought that this one may interest those of you who are interested in Patchwork Quilts. This subject has a long history which I found most interesting. I hope you will too.

Heritage thrives when there is continuity between the past and the present, and that exactly describes The Quilters’ Guild of the British Isles, which combines the curation of a large and important historic collection with the promotion of quilt making as a living contemporary art form.

Founded in 1979, the Guild has collected quilts since its inception. In 1990 it embarked on the British Heritage Quilt Project, which documented examples of patchwork and quilted heritage. Soon the Guild found itself receiving gifts from well-wishers and the collection has since grown into the Quilt Museum in St Anthony’s Hall.York. This fine medieval guildhall houses the premier museum in the U.K. dedicated to patchwork and quilting, with a collection of more than 800 quilts, coverlets, quilted costume and domestic items ranging in date from the early 1700s to the present day.

The museum’s pride and joy is the 1718 Silk Patchwork coverlet, which is the earliest dated patchwork coverlet in Britain (the initials E.H. and the date 1718 are worked  into the central block), which is made up of 120 different silk fabric designs, including one dating to the 1640s. Another treasure is the Ladies Work Society coverlet, an example of work that was commissioned for sale by the Ladies Work Society in London, from gentlemen  ‘who found themselves  in financial hardship’ and could not work as a governess or companion without loss of social standing.

Quiltwork with E.H.

Detail of the 1718 Silk Patchwork Coverlet showing the initials ‘E H’ and date 1718.

Visitors to the museum, or the excellent Guild and museum websites, are left in no doubt, that this is not a backwards-looking enterprise: heritage and contemporary textile arts are promoted side by side, through exhibitions, workshops, social sessions and behind-the-scenes tours. The Guild’s conference, regional events, exhibitions and summer schools are all well supported, and it publishes a well-regarded journal.

quilt-museum-and-gallery York

The Quilt Museum and Art Gallery York


One of the Quilts at the Museum York

Example of another patchwork quilt York Museum

A beautiful Quilt at the York Exhibition

Quilters coverlet

I love this one.

The Guild’s membership is now 7,000 and rising, including over 450 young quilters and almost 400 affiliated groups. What is it about quilting that inspires such commitment and enthusiasm? Liz Whitehouse, Chief Executive of the Quilters Guild, says ‘ Quilting combines sociable companionship, a creative activity that exercises the brain and a sense of being part of a tradition that reaches back centuries. It has a lasting appeal to creative people worldwide.’

Women quilters at work York

The Quilters Guild at work.

The 1718 Coverlet Book

The 1718 Coverlet Book.



Posted by on July 10, 2016 in Uncategorized


6 responses to “The Quilters Guild of the British Isles

  1. Linnea Tanner

    July 11, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    Thanks, Rita, for sharing the post on quilters. Although I do not quilt, I treasure some of the quilts that my mother made. Have a wonderful week.



  2. ritaroberts

    July 11, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    Hi Linnea, Glad you enjoyed this post. You are so lucky to have some of your mothers quilts. I would treasure them also. Hope you have a great week too.
    Best wishes Rita.


  3. dorannrule

    July 15, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    I shared this post with the owner of our local knit shop. Her great passion is in quilting! Thanks so much for sharing this Rita. The photo selections are incredibly beautiful.


  4. ritaroberts

    July 15, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    Thanks Dora. I love quilt work and always wanted to do some myself, but never got around to it. That’s because I was more interested in beadwork.


  5. Aquileana

    July 21, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    Excellent post… very informative!… I enjoyed learning about the British Heritage Quilt Project. tHe quilts are amazing… sending love & bets wishes. Aquileana 🙂


  6. ritaroberts

    July 22, 2016 at 6:41 am

    Thank you for your nice comments Aquileana. The astounding work put into making these quilts is lovely to see, and are precious to our Heritage.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: