Sunday, 24 August 2014

Caddow Quilts and Counterpanes

Last week I went on a visit with some fellow members of the British Quilt Study Group to Bolton Museum object storage facility, a new sustainable store and research space which houses the 95% or so of museum collections that are not on display at any one time.

A brief tour of the facility highlighted the amazing variety of the collections, including - from a textile interest - spinning wheels, looms, small and huge, to wonderful textiles, both local and global.

We then focused on examining a number of quilts and coverlets. I include some highlights below.

First up were a couple of "Alhambra" type woven quilts, pink warp and white weft. A lovely example here:

Alhambra quilt. Photo with permission of Bolton Museum and Archives

Next, was a White Marseilles Quilt (11' 7" x 10' 4") with a central star shape inside a circle with floral, foliage and feather motifs and lovely dogs, probably greyhounds, round the central motif,

Marseilles quilt. Photo with permission of Bolton Museum and Archives.

and these beautiful birds,

Marseilles quilt bird motif

Our group was particularly taken with this lovely example of a white Suffolk Puff quilt. The acquisition notes stated that it was made by Mrs Grace Dewhurst Young for her bottom drawer c. 1874-80.  We counted 40 x 44 Suffolk puffs making a grand total of 1,760!  Closer examination of a number of the 'puffs' and the reverse suggested that different stitchers were involved in the making of this quilt. 

White cotton Suffolk puff quilt 1874-80.
Photo courtesy of Bolton Museum and Archives.
A close-up of the stitched 'puffs',

And the fringe,

Last, but by no me ans least, we had the pleasure of a close inspection and handling of two of Bolton's treasured 'Caddow Quilts'. You can read more about these here on the Bolton Museum website. There is also an article in Quilt Studies Journal, Vol. 14 by Erin Beeston and Laurel Horton, 'Bolton Cotton Counterpanes: Hand-weaving in the Industrial Age'.

This firs white caddow quilt bears the name "W. Leaf of Pendleton 1795" and the intriguing date of February 2nd. William is likely to have been a member of the wealthy Leaf family who lived in Belle Vue in Leaf Square in Salford. 

The central design shows the royal crown and the motto below reads "Let the King live forever". 

The 'William Leaf' Caddow Quilt 1795
Photos courtesy of Bolton Museum and Archives

Our next treat was the Great Exhibition caddow, displayed at Crystal palace in 1851. The text reads ' Great Exhibition of the works of industry of all nations'.

Great Exhibition Caddow 1851
Photos courtesy of Bolton Museum and Archives.

This was a fascinating and inspiring visit and a tribute to Bolton Museums in working to make collections more accessible to both local people and researchers.