Ten year tapestry project is taking shape

Friday 7 February

A small team of skilled needleworkers has been quietly working away in a back room at the Cathedral, on a project that will take more than a decade to complete.

The team has been meeting on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons – each time adding a few more stitches to a four metre x one metre canvaswork embroidery of the 13th century painted Nave ceiling.

The tapestry was commissioned from the Royal School of Needlework in 1986, but it was not until 2018 – Peterborough Cathedral’s 900th anniversary year – that it was donated to the Cathedral and work began. The kit includes a stitch-by-stitch plan of the ceiling, with detailed illustrations of the individual lozenges. Coloured threads are being chosen to match the colours in the ceiling.

“Last week we reached an important milestone when we ‘rolled on’ the tapestry on its frame for the first time. At our current rate of progress it is likely to be 2030 before it is finished and unfurled again, so I did wonder whether I shall ever see that bit again!” said Elaine Harburn, one of the embroiderers.

Fellow stitcher Emily Finnie described their embroidery afternoons as “very peaceful – you have to concentrate so you can’t think about anything else whilst you’re doing it. I also enjoy the companionship of my fellow embroiderers”.

If there are experienced embroiderers out there who would like to find out more about joining the team, they are invited to contact the Cathedral Volunteer Coordinator, Ed Bailey, via volunteer.coordinator@peterborough-cathedral.org.uk or on 01733 355304.

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