Tuesday 20 December 2022

Christmas Vestment Mending Party

 Lucy writes: Great fun was had by all at our annual Vestment Mending Christmas Party, held at the church hall of St Gregory & St Augustine on 17th December, thanks to the hospitality of Fr John Saward.

We absorbed quite a lot of mulled wine and mince pies.

Some of us even managed to do some sewing.

It was a treat to see members from all over the country: a party came from the London chapter, including the founder of their chapter, Susan Gollop. We also had guests from as far afield as Kent and Herefordshire, as well as a representative from the Birmingham & Black Country chapter.

Festive knitwear and accessories were very much encouraged.

No one is too young or too old to join in either the work or the fun!

Vreni, the leader the of the London chapter, had brought with her some of the mantillas which are their special interest: as you can see it is mounted on a hairband. They are for sale from the Guild of St Clare at St Bede's for £5.

A Guild of St Clare vestment mending session would be unthinkable without tea, and plenty of it.

Every guest took away a party bag with a Christmas present from the Guild of St Clare: one of our beautiful bone china mugs, now available for sale from the Latin Mass Society shop.

I'm so grateful to everyone who came for making the party a success: it was lovely to see Guild of St Clare members gathered from all corners of England, and the perfect curtain-raiser to Christmas. I'm already planning next year's!

Saturday 19 November 2022

London Vestment Mending Day

 This took place in St Mary Moorfields in the City, alongside a server training event organised by the Society of St Tarcisius.




Thursday 3 November 2022

Launch of the Birmingham & Black Country Chapter

 Lucy writes: It was a great pleasure to join the new Birmingham & Black Country Chapter at St Mary's on the Hill in Wednesbury last Saturday. I travelled up from Oxford with a fellow Oxford Chapter member, Clare Auty, so we could talk about our own experiences of the Guild of St Clare apostolate, and we were delighted to find such a committed and enthusiastic group. The Chapter Leader, Julie Roberts, is a talented and very experienced stitcher, with a particular interest in machine embroidery: this is a skill set which will greatly expand the range of projects they can undertake, and indeed enrich the whole Guild. They plan to meet monthly at St Mary's, on the last Saturdays of the month.

The Guild of St Clare now has five Chapters, spread over a good portion of England, and of course this means we are able to assist many more priests saying the Traditional Mass in maintaining and renewing their vestments. We are also able to welcome increasing numbers of laypeople from all over the country keen to serve the Church in this very special way.

The Guild of St Clare now has five Chapters, spread over a good portion of England, and of course this means we are able to assist many more priests saying the Traditional Mass in maintaining and renewing their vestments. We are also able to welcome increasing numbers of laypeople from all over the country keen to serve the Church in this very special way.

If you are interested in joining one of our Chapters, or would like help in setting up a new one, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Tuesday 1 November 2022

Fifth-scale Cope making at the Royal School of Needlework

We are delighted to announce that online booking has now opened for our annual day course at the Royal School of Needlework next year, which this time is making fifth-scale Copes. Our tutor will be Heather Lewis, RSN graduate Apprentice, who is very kindly preparing this especially for us. Vestment-making does not feature on the RSN's regular schedule of classes (although some years ago it was possible to learn stole-making, but this has come to an end), and this particular course represents a unique opportunity to learn how to make one of the more exciting and challenging pieces of the traditional High Mass set.

The date is the 18th March 2023, and the course will run between 10am and 4pm. Tea and coffee are provided; you will need to bring a packed lunch, or you can visit one of Hampton Court Palace's cafes. The cost is £165 (there is a small supplement if you would prefer to use ecclesiastical brocade to make your Cope.) Places are strictly limited so don't delay in reserving your place.

Saturday 8 October 2022

Ora et Labora. Craft as sacred, prayerful practice

Our thriving Northern Chapter was recently delighted to welcome a new member: Kelly Ellis-Radahd, who brings great enthusiasm and sewing skill to the group. She has her own blog, and wrote this beautiful account of her discovery of the Guild and the most recent meeting she attended, at the York Oratory. This is cross-posted from her blog This Garden of Grace, with her kind permission.

Just beyond the shadow of York Minster, nestled amongst the trees and surrounding buildings in a sunny spot, sits the church of St Wilfred, the York Oratory, a beautiful place of worship with intricate carvings, magnificent stained glass windows and the most exquisite interior and sanctuary. On 24th of October a group of wonderful individuals dedicated to supporting priests those whocelebrate the Traditional Liturgy of the Catholic Church, gathered in the upper rooms of the magnificent York Oratory. Overlooking the beautiful walled garden, the heavenly scent of incense rose from the sanctuary below, and, surrounded with tea and coffee, these wonderful individuals sat, at pretty farmhouse tables on quirky upholstered chairs busy at work. It was here in the great tradition of Ora et labora, they mended and sewn a number of vestments and stoles for priests who say the traditional Latin Mass.

Having in the past couple of years come back to my faith, discovering the Traditional Liturgy of the Catholic Church has been deeply nourishing for my own spiritual journey with Our Lord. The Traditional Liturgy weaves a rich tapestry of scripture, tradition and faith, which all glorify God, a feast for the mind, body and soul.

Naturally as I do, I began searching for a way in which I could support the Traditional Liturgy. The idea of studying Theology at one time felt like the place to start, but alas I am no academic. However the Lord did gift me with a creative mind and hard working hands, and so when I read about the work of the Guild of St Clare it felt like all these pieces of me, of my life experience, of my faith fell into place beautifully. It was most certainly one of those moments you feel you can feel the Lords hand guiding you in your life so clearly.

The Guild of St Clare was founded in Oxford in 2009. Its purpose is to repair and make the liturgical vestments necessary for the celebration of the Traditional Liturgy of the Catholic Church, to pass on the skills necessary for this and to promote domestic sewing. The Guild is affiliated with the Latin Mass Society and its spiritual patron is St Clare of Assisi, who like many female religious over the centuries, made liturgical vestments.


Over the years the guild has grown exponentially and the Latin Mass Society now offer an annual sponsorship for the Royal School of Needlework Certificate Course to individuals wanting to deepen their skills and knowledge in hand embroidery. Skills which can ultimately benefit the Guild and its members. A few months ago I had the great privilege of meeting the Guild’s founder Lucy Shaw as part of an online interview for this sponsorship. Although it wasn’t a successful application at this time, Lucy was kind enough to invite me to be part of a new chapter in the Guild of St Clare, this chapter would serve the North of England, and as a Manchester Native it felt like a great opportunity to get involved in this important work and be part of an exciting new phase in the Guild’s growth.

And so, back reflecting on that sunny autumn morning, to the sunlit room overlooking the walled garden of St Wilfred’s church, our third meeting of the Northern Chapter (my second) which although still in its infancy is thriving! This September we welcomed many new members of varying ages, male and female to our most recent meeting and we have managed to secure vestments and ecclesiastical items for mending and rehoming.

We are continuing to nurture and forge new relationships with communities and priests who celebrate the Traditional Liturgy in the North and warmly welcome anyone whom may be interested in joining any of the Guild of St Clare meetings, or indeed any priests who need our services to get in touch with us. Let us together strive to serve the Traditional Liturgy of the Catholic Church for thebenefit of all faithful, that they may come to experience its beauty, and be rewarded with its eternal fruits.

“Love God, Serve God, Everything is in that” St Clare of Assisi

Sunday 25 September 2022

Guild of St Clare Sponsorship Award

 We are delighted to announce the two winners of the Guild of St Clare annual sponsorship scheme for the Royal School of Needlework Certificate Course. Both are committed supporters of the work of the Guild of St Clare, and we are very happy to be able to assist them to develop their considerable talents for hand sewing. Many congratulations to Miranda de Burgh and Rosa Thurrott!

The report on this year's award in the current issue of Mass of Ages

Saturday 16 July 2022

Booking open for Sewing Retreats in 2023

Online registration for next year's retreats is now open.


The dates are 3rd-5th February 2023 and 3rd-5th November 2023. Both will be held at Park Place Pastoral Centre.


For more information have a look at our website or watch this mini-documentary made by Peter Jones of One of Nine at our most recent retreat.

Friday 8 July 2022

Guild of St. Clare in the news

We are very excited to be featured in LifeSiteNews, in a report which described our activities and special charism. The American journalist who wrote the story, Jean Mondoro,  confirmed our growing conviction that there is no equivalent apostolate in America or Canada: proof that, despite our small numbers here in the UK, we remain a dynamic centre for the global traditional movement thanks to the commitment of our traditional community. 

Monday 4 July 2022

Launch of Two New Chapters

 Lucy writes: In the last two months I have been delighted to assist in the foundation of two new Guild of St Clare chapters. The first is in the idyllic setting of Withermarsh Green, where the community at Our Lady Immaculate & St Edmund are keen to support Fr Henry Whisenant's traditional apostolate there by making and caring for the vestments and altar furnishings.

It was quite a long journey for me from Oxford to Suffolk, but the church with its grounds is a Garden of Eden to the exhausted traveller! We were blessed with glorious sunshine and were able to bask in it for a while with very welcome cups of tea. 

Fr Henry had asked the group to make him several new stoles, and we started work on these, beginning with pattern-making and progressing to cutting and stitching. It wasn't possible to complete these in a day, but plans are already made for future meetings. 

The leader of this chapter is a student at the Royal School of Needlework: others among them are also experienced stitchers, and the future of this enterprise is very promising.

The journey to Manchester, for the launch of the Northern Chapter, was even longer, but the weather just as kind: the sun smiles on Guild of St Clare meetings, no matter where they are held! Some members of this group are in fact from Yorkshire, so although the first meeting was held in Lancashire a hybrid nomenclature has been settled on. It isn't attached to any particular parish; rather the idea is to provide a local network for the many traditionally-minded stitchers who find it difficult to travel to London for the regular vestment-mending workshops. There, too, we began with stole-making, and once again the previous experience of the founding members was very evident and promises well for the success of this chapter.

The publication of the document Traditionis Custodes was a shattering blow for traditionalists, and the new restrictions placed on the celebration of the traditional sacraments have been very distressing. The need for the support of a loving community has never been stronger, and these new Guild of St Clare Chapters are a direct response to that need. The work we do not only supports traditionally-minded priests in a material and necessary way, but is also itself a prayerful offering that we make for the good of the whole Church. In making that prayer together, we strengthen our own faith and that of each other. It does my heart good to see the devotion that goes into the repairs undertaken at Guild of St Clare meetings, and I would encourage anyone local to these new chapters to attend whenever possible. 

I very much look forward to travelling back to both new Chapters, to see how they are prospering and to join them in their spiritual travels through sewing.

Wednesday 8 June 2022

Lucy's Advanced Goldwork for the Royal School of Needlework

 Lucy writes: Today I finally completed and submitted by Advanced Goldwork, as part of my studies for the Diploma at the Royal School of Needlework. It's been a long time in the making - I started it in January 2020, just before the lockdown!

Required elements for the Advanced Goldwork module include basketweave, kid, combination cutwork including rough purl, and plate. The heraldic subject I chose (the Pelican in her Piety with three chicks on an Ionic column) was well-suited to the technique. I particularly enjoyed putting in the David Bowie-style corona on the pelican. I am expecting to re-visit gold work many times, as it is so much used in ecclesiastical embroidery, and this piece of work was an excellent introduction to a wide range of stitches. I'm not sure I'll be doing much cutwork in the future though...as other embroiderers will attest, it's extremely fiddly and far too fragile even to be transported once it's finished, never mind worn. This piece of work will be framed and hung to protect it from damage.

Friday 25 March 2022

Quarter-scale Chasuble Making at the RSN: Report

 The Guild of St Clare held its first Quarter-Scale Chasuble making day at the Royal School of Needlework on 19th March. The course was fully booked, and several participants had travelled long distances to be present. Our tutor, Heather Lewis, is a graduate Apprentice from the Royal School of Needlework, who is now based in York, but made arrangements to come to Hampton Court Palace specially to lead this workshop for us. She is an expert in liturgical needlework, and has taught our workshops at Hampton Court, on ecclesiastical embroidery and, most recently, burse-making.

It was wonderful day learning a truly exciting skill, the one most central to all our work at the Guild of St Clare. Several long-standing members were there, who despite their wealth of experience were keen to attend this ground-breaking course. 

I've made and mended many vestments myself but, as always, there was plenty of new material to learn. The Royal School of Needlework continues to teach the traditional techniques for hand embroidery and construction: every part of the chasuble is made by hand.


I was particularly interested to see Heather's technique for attaching braid to the chasuble. This, too, is done by hand: in order to avoid any wrinkles or distortion in the fabric it is kept flat on the table at all times.

It was a great pleasure spending time with the other participants, and thanks to glorious weather we had a fab lunch break together in the sunshine.

Thanks to the success of this occasion we are planning an annual day course at Hampton Court Palace, each one tackling a different skill relevant to liturgical needlework. Next year we hope to do a miniature Cope: look out for updates and information about online booking.

For more photos visit Joseph Shaw's Flickr page

Thursday 24 March 2022

Sponsorship for the Royal School of Needlework Certificate course

A young volunteer making a stole at a Guild event.
Traditional hand embroidery techniques, required for restoration of old vestments and the construction of new ones in the traditional way, was saved from oblivion in England by the Royal School of Needlework (as it soon became), which was founded in 1872. Today the RSN is commissioned to restore antique fabrics for museums and to create things for state occasions, such as the Coronation, as well as private commissions. They pass on these precious skills to new generations of students in their courses. including the skills of traditional vestment-making.

Their Certificate in Hand Embroidery, in which students master four different techniques by doing a project in each one, could be regarded as the entry level for serious work. 

It is, naturally, expensive and time-consuming. The good news is that the Certificate Course is also extremely flexible, making it possible for students to do it at times convenient to them, over a longer of shorter period of time. 

The even better news is that in association with the Latin Mass Society (and a benefactor) the Guild of St Clare is offering sponsorship which will pay up to 50% of the tuition fees.

We have already sponsored two students, who are now nearing the end of the Certificate. This year we will be able to sponsor two students.

The deadline for applications in 24th June 2022.

Making a burse, at a Guild event.

Saturday 12 February 2022

February 2022 Sewing Retreat: Report

 The Guild of St Clare held its eight Sewing Retreat at a new venue, Park Place Pastoral Centre. We moved here in order to be able to expand the numbers, as Douai was no longer able to accommodate very many of us. At Park Place we are back to our usual group size of twenty, which means we can build a happy and close-knit community while also getting through plenty of work. As usual we were fully booked, with participants travelling from all over the country to join in: we had representatives from Scotland, Yorkshire, Withermarsh Green and Kent, to name just a few.

We were very fortunate to have Fr Stephen Morrison OPraem from the Chelmsford Norbertines as our chaplain. Fr Stephen is a great friend of the Guild and has undertaken many repairs and vestment makes of his own. He joined in enthusiastically with the sewing, in addition to giving us spiritual conferences and celebrating daily Mass. His talks were on Our Lady and the virtue of courage: they were very helpful, and also wonderfully consolatory, in what is quite a dark and difficult time for those of us who are attached to the Traditional Mass.

We tackled a number of repairs, including the ongoing work on the Guild of St Clare's own Green Low Mass Set, a gift from Leo Darroch, former president of FIUV. We also began work on various pieces which are needed to make up incomplete Low Mass Sets, including two chalice veils and two humeral veils.

We had the pleasure of a special guest on Friday evening, the film-maker Peter Jones who is probably best-known for his popular YouTube channel, OneofNine, in which he and his wife talk to Catholic families all over the country about their very varied experiences. He has made a documentary for us which brilliantly captures the atmosphere of our retreats.

Our next Sewing Retreat, also to be held at Park Place Pastoral Centre, is in November: places are still available and can be booked online.

To view more photos visit Joseph Shaw's Flickr page

Wednesday 19 January 2022

Quarter size chasuble-making day at the Royal School of Needlework

The Guild of St Clare is delighted to announce a new one day course at the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace, making a quarter size Roman chasuble. The tuition will be provided by RSN tutor Heather Lewis, who has led previous Guild of St Clare courses at the Royal School of Needlework in ecclesiastical goldwork, stole-making and burse-making. This is a remarkable opportunity to learn the skills necessary for making a chasuble, using traditional hand-construction techniques.

It will take place on 19th March between 10am and 4pm. The price of the course is £145 including materials. Tea and coffee are provided; you will need to bring a packed lunch, or you can visit one of Hampton Court Palace's cafes.

Places are strictly limited: book now to avoid disappointment.

For more information please email Lucy on lucyashaw@gmail.com, or book through the registration link on the LMS website.