Needlework fit for a Queen
The Grange’s heritage collection is small but fascinating. It tells a heart-warming story of changing attitudes towards people with disabilities through the tireless work of our founder,Miss Julia Sweet, and with the help the royal family.
Miss Sweet has been described as having ‘the courage of a lion and the industry of an ant’ and while she was undoubtably an excellent lacemaker and needlewoman she was also an entrepreneur. A former governess to well-off families, she used her connections to gain commissions for The Schoolof Stitchery and Lace. An early, and very important customer, was Queen Mary, the current Queen’s grandmother.
In our collection we have scores of letters from various ladies-in-waiting ordering items on behalf of HM Queen Mary. In the 1940s and 1950s letters criss-crossed between The School in Bookham and various royal residences ordering nightdresses and chemises, discussing patterns and shades of silk and complementing the ladies at The School of Stitchery for their beautiful needlework.
Letters come from Marlborough House, Pall Mall and Sandringham and one from onboard HM Yacht Victoria and Albert. A later letter is from our current Queen’s nurse requesting a copy of a favourite dress Princess Elizabeth had outgrown.
Queen Mary’s Nightdresses
On her death in 1952, ladies in Waiting kindly sent back to The School of Stitchery and Lace items made for Queen Mary, including her beautiful lace vallanced bedspread, a huge white work tablelcoth, several fine lawn chemises and nightgowns. These vintage textiles form the core of our heritage collection today.
A library of lace and embroidery books
The Grange boasts a collection of over 100 books on lacemaking and every aspect of embroidery. Several are 19th Century first editions. We also have lacemaking equipment including pillows and bobbins and bobbin winders.