King Richard III a Part of History

This past week saw celebrations across much of the United Kingdom with the Reinterment of King Richard III of England. Many people from across the United Kingdom helped make the celebration special. There was also a group of Ecclesiastical Seamstresses from the United States that played a role in the event by providing Church Linens: fair linens, purificators, lavabos and corporals suitable for the for the service to be held at Leicester Cathedral.

Altar linens for King Richard III reinterment
Altar linens for King Richard III Reinterment being Blessing in the Cathedral of All Saints, Albany, NY before being shipped to England

The altar linen project for King Richard III was spearheaded by Elizabeth Morgan who was contacted by Leicester Cathedral and coordinated the making of Fairlinens: palls, purificators, lavabo, corporals, and other linen items as needed for a new altar being installed in Leicester Cathedral for the service.

New Altar Installed at Leicester Cathedral for Reinterment of King Richard III
New Altar Installed at Leicester Cathedral for Reinterment of King Richard III

A design motif was selected. Although, I am not privileged to any knowledge relating to the how or why this  Ecclesiastical Embroidery Design was selected for King Richard III’s Altar Linens , one can imagine the design comes from something dating to the time, or near the time when he lived.

Design of Cross in circle surrounded by what might be a crown without the thorns
Design of Cross in circle surrounded by what might be a crown without the thorns

In reading through the accounts of giving King Richard III an historically accurate reburial, much research must have been put into every detail of the celebration. I wish I knew the history behind this motif. Perhaps someone knows the history and why this design was selected.

The design, while simple, works out beautifully for the embroidery on the Altar Linens. A friend, talented with exquisite machine embroidery, digitized the above design in the needed sizes and variations for the different linen items. She did a wonderful job in preparing and embroidering all of the linen pieces for this project. Many owe her a great deal of thanks for her work.

Finished Machine embroidery motif for King Richard III, waiting for hem
Finished Machine embroidery motif for King Richard III, waiting for hem

The design translated beautifully into embroidery and looks very nice on this unhemmed linen item. The challenge once the linen was cut and embroidered was getting the hems sewn in all of the altar linen pieces.

With over thirty linens pieces needing to be hemmed, and only a short time in which to complete the project and ship it back to the UK, the pressure was on. Seamstresses were needed to hem these linen items.

When I got an email asking if I would be interested in helping with this project, the answer was: “Of course! Yes! Send them at once!”  This was an incredible project; a chance to be a tiny grain in the sand in a larger event that will stand out in history for the ages. To be asked to sew linens for the reburial of a King – it is a once in a life time project, regardless of how large or small the part is.

Embroidery Design for King Richard III Altar Linens - Pruificator
Embroidery Design for King Richard III Altar Linens – Pruificator

The Ecclesiastical Design for the purificators is the simple cross from the center of the larger design. As you can see in the photo, it is tiny, not much longer than the length of the needle.

This was something that happens once in a life time; I am honored to have been asked to help and be a part of this celebration for King Richard III, even for something as small as hemming two pieces of linen.

But every day that I am privileged to work with my hands and make Ecclesiastical Vestments and Church Linens, I am reminded of the honor of sewing for my Heavenly King. That honor is one which is truly humbling indeed.

Solo Dei Gloria

Be sure to visit our online store front Ecclesiastical Sewing where you may shop for Liturgical Fabrics, altar linen fabrics, church vestment making patterns, liturgical machine embroidery designschurch vestment trims and notions and so much more. You may also find us on  Ecclesiastical Sewing  on Facebook , Twitter, and Pinterest. Sing up for our mailing list  at the bottom of the page on our online store front and receive a free copy of our Small Linens Booklet as our way of saying thank you for following along.

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