Elizabeth – Watts and Co
Living in a small community in northern Minnesota does not present many opportunities for viewing beautiful and historic Ecclesiastical Vestments. So, making the best of the situation, I haunt Flickr, Pinterest, and various websites looking for interesting and unusual pieces of Ecclesiastical embroidery. There are times when the internet seems an endless source, a visual feast of colors and designs, while at other times, there is nothing of interest to be found.
Quite some time ago, I came upon the name of a Vestment maker in the UK – Watts and Co Fabrics. They were one of the first sources of true Ecclesiastical fabrics that I was able to locate on the internet. Watts and Co has a long history dating back more than 100 years. During that time, they have produced many wonderful Ecclesiastical Vestments and altar hangings. One of my personal favorites is the Great Processional Banner at York Minster which was made by Watts and Co. around the time of World War I.
While reading and enjoying the rich history of Watts and Co, there has been one woman, Elizabeth Hoare, who played an unusual role in the company. During her span of time as owner, she was instrumental in preserving the labors of love created by needle-workers from the past generation. There was a time in our not to distance past when little value was placed on the hand embroidered vestments and altar hangings worked during the late 19th and early to mid 20th century. Elizabeth was responsible for keeping many works of art from being lost or destroyed, thus preserving a piece of vestment making history for generations to view, study and enjoy. Her collection grew over the years, and today, there is a permanent display located at Liverpool Cathedral – the Cathedral Gallery.
It will be quite some time before the opportunity presents itself to travel to the UK, but the Cathedral Gallery will be one of the places near the top of the list. Until then, there is a nice collection of photos over on Flickr: Elizabeth Hoare Gallery in Liverpool Cathedral. For those planning to travel, or who are in the area, you may wish to contact the the Gallery at Liverpool Cathedral.
While looking around the Liverpool Cathedral site, the gift shop has a book The Embroideries at Liverpool Cathedral. The book is on its way to Minnesota as I write, and I look forward to receiving it. While it’s not the same as seeing the embroideries in person, it will have to do for now.
Solo Dei Gloria
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