Thursday 30 March 2023

Apply now for our Royal School of Needlework Sponsorship Scheme

Since 2019 the Guild of St Clare has offered an annual award of sponsorship through the prestigious Certificate Course at the Royal School of Needlework: the scheme continues, and we invite candidates to submit their applications by 23rd June 2023.

Burse-Making, March 2020: our annual Guild of St Clare workshop at the RSN, Hampton Court Palace

The Royal School of Needlework is an international centre of excellence for hand embroidery, and the skills it teaches are essential to the work of vestment making and repairs. The Certificate Course is a flexible course which can be completed at a pace to suit each student. It teaches four core techniques: Jacobean Crewelwork, Silk Shading, Goldwork and a choice of either Canvaswork or Blackwork. It is taught in various locations across the UK: at the main teaching apartments at Hampton Court Palace and also at satellites in Bristol, Durham, Rugby and Glasgow.

Jacobean Crewelwork, completed by James Sharpe, our first sponsorship winner

With the assistance of the Latin Mass Society and also a private benefactor, the Guild of St Clare offers sponsorship which contributes 50% of the fees. For more information, including how to apply, click here.

Monday 6 March 2023

The Oxford Chapter on Pilgrimage

 Clare of the Oxford Chapter writes: It was a somewhat chilly morning on Monday 27th February, when 3 members of the Oxford Chapter of the Guild of St. Clare met on the platform of Oxford Parkway Railway Station. This was the start of our Pilgrimage to the Church of Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane in London, via a number of sewing related retail establishments.

We spent the hour of the journey into London discussing our hopes and aspirations for the day - and, of course, doing some sewing. We arrived at Marylebone Station and walked the short distance to our first port of call; Joel and Son. This is a veritable cornucopia of rolls of fabric, reaching from the floor to the ceiling. Nothing leapt out at us, demanding to be purchased, so we moved on to the next establishment on our itinerary.

After a somewhat circuitous route, we found ourselves at V. V. Rouleaux - another cornucopia, this time of braids, ribbons, trims and other bits and bobs. It was getting towards lunchtime, so we MacCulloch and Wallis our last stop of the morning. We dramatically reduced their stock of needles, thread, marking pencils and calico, among other things, after which we had a well earned cup of tea and a sandwich.

Liberty’s was just a short walk from the cafĂ©, with its large collection of cotton prints and sewing accessories, made in some of their more popular prints. A number of items in the latter category were delightedly purchased. While investigating the sales items, we came upon a rather spectacular model of the shop in LEGO!

Our final retail establishment was Watts and Co, where we were shown their extensive range of glorious liturgical fabrics, and came away with some samples for matching various projects.

Two further Pilgrims then joined us at the Clermont Hotel, Charing Cross for afternoon tea. We spent a very pleasant hour or so chatting and enjoying the tea, sandwiches and cakes.

After tea, we made our way to our final destination and the purpose of our Pilgrimage; Sung Mass at the beautiful Church of Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane, to pray for the special intention of the Liberty of the traditional Mass.

We have been commissioned to make covers for the kneelers for Corpus Christi, for use at Pontifical Masses, and took this opportunity to check the measurements. We are looking forward to beginning these as part of our contribution to the Lenten Vestment Challenge.

Friday 3 March 2023

A visit to the Northern Chapter

Lucy writes: It was a marvellous treat for me to attend the most recent meeting of the Northern Chapter, very kindly hosted by the priests at the York Oratory. 

What a powerhouse! The meeting was extremely well-attended: the Upper Room, which is the parish hall of the York Oratory, was as full as it could hold. I was impressed by the wide range of projects under repair, from a baptismal gown with a hole (a new panel of needle lace is being made specially to replace the damaged section) to several large and magnificent banners, some owned by the Canons at St Walburge's, nothing is too complex for the highly-skilled needleworkers gathered last Saturday.

One of the special things about the meetings at the York Oratory is that the day begins with Mass, at 9.15am. There is also Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at lunch time, so that the whole day becomes a spiritual retreat as well as a workshop. 

I was very touched by the very warm welcome I was given by the Chapter members, and awe-struck by the sheer quantity of work that they are tackling. They are anxious to be as useful as possible to the traditional communities that they serve, especially to the priests, and are continually seeking them out to offer their services.

The meeting took place on the same day that news broke about the suppression of almost all traditional Masses in Leeds, which is the neighbour to Middlesbrough diocese where we were gathered. It was a great shock to us all, especially as the blow seemed to fall so close to us. The attack on the traditional Mass feels very personal to those attached to it, and we are very hurt by it: but it was notable that there was no bitterness. There is anxiety and distress, but no anger: only a determination to continue to serve the Church as well as possible. Mending vestments is not only a practical answer to the latest onslaught from Rome, but also a great comfort.

The next meeting of the Northern Chapter is at St Augustine's, Manchester: for more details contact the Chapter Co-ordinator, Clare Megarity on