Creativity in Needlework

Sampler made in 1880 by Annie Maria Sharman

Photograph by kind permission of Keith Cockings

Annie was the niece of Maria, a child lacemaker who also featured in the exhibition. Forty years after her aunt was recorded in the 1841 census as a ten year old lacemaker, Annie, aged twelve, appears in the 1881 census as a scholar. Education had become compulsory up to the age of ten in 1880, but it is likely that Annie had also benefited from improved family circumstances which enabled her to stay at school rather than having to seek work. Although living in the same cottage occupied by the family forty years before, on what is now Newton Lane, Annie’s father had been a gamekeeper, unlike her grandfather (Maria’s father) who would have had a much poorer wage as an agricultural labourer.

However, craft skills were still seen as important, and the sampler reveals that Annie was attending the Saturday Sewing School at the church. She went on to become a dressmaker, another example perhaps of creativity in the history of Turvey.

Victorian girls were encouraged to work at samplers, partly to develop sewing skills, but also to foster what were considered worthy traits such as persistence, concentration and self-discipline.

The cottage (on the left) lived in by the Sharman family in the 19th century – photograph taken in the 1940s.


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