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Friday, 1st Feb 2019
The forgotten county
By Tim Porter
Stones in his pockets
Wednesday 24th April 2019
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PIONEERING PATCHWORK WINGS ITS WAY TO THE USA
A UNIQUE COMMUNITY QUILT has arrived in America from the Cotswolds. The pioneering patchwork is a surprise present from Stow-on-the-Wold to US town Appomattox, Virginia. The colourful ‘Civil War’ quilt celebrates a newly-forged ‘friendship link’ based on an historical parallel. Stow staged the final battle of the 1st English Civil War, in 1646, and the Battle of Appomattox Court House was the last in the American Civil War in 1865 – marking its 150th anniversary this year.
To further mark the bond – the biennial Stow Cotswold Festival adopted a US theme and was held on the 4th of July, American Independence Day. At the event, locals and visitors were invited to join in a mass ‘Sewing Bee’ as the quilt’s planned design and fabrics were revealed. The call sparked a huge response with all the colourful patchwork’s 128 hexagons being sponsored and the first stitches were sewn.
The one-off 4ft X 3ft quintessentially English quilt was finally completed in November. Now the goodwill gesture has been unveiled to the public – before being dispatched. It’s on display in the foyer of St Edward’s Hall, Stow, by the library, until the end of January.
Creating the work of many hands was the brainchild of Stow and District Civic Society, which launched the friendship link with Appomattox County Historical Society. “We’re so proud of the quilt as it helps show we’re reaching out to another country to develop a special relationship,” said Stow Civic Society chairman Nigel Surman, who spearheaded the initiative with wife Rachel supported by many of the Society’s 150 members. “Stow and Appomattox have shared similar histories due to the turmoil of a civil war and we hope the gift of this quilt will further strengthen our two towns’ continuing friendship.”
Stow Primary School pupils and head teacher Rebecca Scutt – who have built a strong bond with Appomattox Elementary School through the link – had first sight of the finished work. Mrs Scutt said: “Appomattox school feels like a friend across the miles. It’s supportive when we face similar situations, both joyous and sad. We’ve all sent letters and exchange photos of events here, such as Remembrance Day and the American equivalent, Veterans’ Day. We email regularly and follow each other’s websites to compare and contrast our lives.”
The arresting quilt features rosettes of five battles - Edgehill, Marston Moor, Newbury and Naseby, with Stow in the centre - all marked with crossed swords. Made entirely from eye-catching William Morris fabrics, it is in traditional English Paper Piecing style.
Friendship link co-ordinator Derek Taylor said it would strike a chord abroad. “Quilts have a very special meaning in the US, particularly in the Civil War,” he explained. “When soldiers went off to fight their womenfolk made quilts for them embroidered with personal messages such as ‘Keep Brave Billy’. So they would sleep wrapped up in loving thoughts.” Stow’s quilt has its own missive at the bottom: ‘Stow-on-the-Wold 2015. To our friends in Appomattox on the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Appomattox Courthouse’.
At Stow Cotswold Festival, hexagon sponsors also wrote their names and messages on the quilt’s corresponding template, as part of the gift. They were given commemorative bookmarks and could also make American-themed material brooches. The Society raised over a thousand pounds from the sponsorship, brooches and themed refreshments on the day for Stow Cotswold Festival’s charities.
The quilt’s design and assembly was led by experts Stephanie Venn and Sue Dalrymple, from Cupcake Cottons in Burford, Oxfordshire. They were helped by keen Civic Society members and local ladies Pat White, Lynn Guthrie, Yvonne Cadman, Ann Edwards, Angela Gibson and Susan Brattin. The postal cost to Appomattox is being donated by American Lee Materia, from Durham House Antiques, Stow.
Find out more about Appomattox and why Stow and this town in Virginia, USA have a special link. Click here.
Four of the quliters with their creation: Ann Edwards, Lynn Guthrie, Pat White and Yvonne Cadman.
There were 2 other ladies from the Civic Societywho also helped sew the quilt: Angela Gibson and Susan Brattin.
Quilt with Stow Primary pupils.L to R: Amelia Taylor, Maxwell Shurmer, Freya Molson and Solomon Bell.
Stow Primary School headmistress, Rebecca Scutt signing the Quilt template. And one of her pupils doing the same.
A message from Tom Adams of the Appomattox Historical Society.
I unveiled the quilt yesterday at the Elementary school here in Appomattox, it went over very well! The kids were all excited! I gave them a brief history of our Friendship Link and also some background regarding the 1st English Civil War, especially the five battles listed on the quilt. I have attached the sheet regarding that. I spoke about the similiarities between our two communities and that I was so glad that their own pen pal program was working out so well! I also read them Nigel's letter and showed them the list of sponsors and their messages. When they couldn't take the excitement any longer, I showed them the quilt to many "oohs and ahhs"! They got to come up and get a close up view and asked many questions. I decided to leave the quilt at the school so it could be displayed for the next couple of weeks and afterwards will show it to the members of the Historical Society. We ended the class with the students writing letters to their counterparts in Stow telling them about the quilt. I woke up this morning to being on the front page of the daily newspaper, the News & Advance, who did a wonderful article. I have provided the link for you below: