A small idea on how to celebrate the passing of the second Millennia has turned into a 10 years project that has seen many villagers involved with the preparation of canvaswork kneelers and tapestries that are now used and admired by parishoners during every service.
In 1988 a group of people stitched kneelers for the choir stalls and when it came to discussions about an appropriate way to mark the Millennium, it was suggested that a more ambitious project should be attempted. The church is fitted with bench kneelers and the plan was for individual pictures to be made and sewn together to cover the whole bench. They were mounted on upholstered boards and hinged on to the existing kneelers so that they could be lifted out of the way of dirty shoes. At the same time five of the pictures were formed into a panel to hang in the new library area of Tewin Cowper School. A design was chosen by each participant and the pictures depict scenes of Tewin life, past and present, including buildings, organisations, countryside and wildlife.
The kneeler end panels alternate MM & 2000 visible along the aisles to give strength and stability to the lengths of the picture panels. The colours of all these end panels are those found in the two front long kneelers, used in different combinations. The greys used in the borders reflect the stonework in the church and the purple, red and yellow reflect the stained glass. The keys of St. Peter are on each length at the far end from MM. Those who worked the keys were encouraged to look at old keys for inspiration and consequently, the panels have variations. The First Kneeler is stitched to say "AD 2000 EXULTATE JUBLITATE Hurrah” whilst the second says " MILLENNIUM 2000".
Initially it was hoped to complete the first two pews of the nave but, as more and more people joined the first core of enthusiasts, the project grew. The aim was now to fill the entire church. Over sixty people, both men and women, have now completed a design. The basic design colours and stitching of the surrounds and the management of the project to maintain consistency was carried out by Elisabeth Buchanan assisted by Audrey Walters. Elisabeth also supplied advice and designs, where needed, to help the participants, many of whom had never undertaken such work before. The Reverend Rob Eardley stitched the last panel with an open date of 200- and the entire project was completed in September 2009.
Photos of the various kneelers can be found here (file size 0.5MB).
Our kneelers now feature in a new book by Elizabeth Bingham - Kneelers: The Unsung Folk Art of England and Wales (Chatto and Windus).