The home of embroidery and stitched textiles in

Durham City

A Short History

The branch was established in 1995 following a national drive to increase membership of the Embroiderers' Guild. Joy Bradshaw took up the challenge and targeted Durham City as a suitable area for a new branch. Founding members included Joy, Victoria MacLeod, Wendy Andrews, Greta Hodgson, Anthea Lilley, Ann Burles and Olive Morgan. Following an exploratory meeting the Branch began with a membership of 38.

Local exhibitions and publicity during the 1990s helped establish the group throughout the district. As well as encouraging traditional and contemporary embroidery, new skills were learned. These included masks and headdresses for the Durham Mediaeval Theatre Company and Textile Conservation for the Oriental Museum. Early exhibitions of members work took the branch to Killhope Mining Museum, the Durham County Show, Durham City Show, Durham Cathedral, the Oriental Museum and further afield to the Knitting and Stitching show. Members also took the opportunity to visit other exhibitions and shows (just in case there was that very special something to buy...). We aim to have at least one organised visit to a major show/exhibition/gallery each year.

A Young Embroiderers' group was established in 1997, under the leadership of Olive Morgan. Tina Bickerdike's children were keen members at that time, and in 2014 Tina (herself a founder member) took on the leadership of the group. Every year members design and stitch new works for exhibitions and competitions. These may be regional or national competitions.

Within the branch we set 'Members Challenges'. Members take an inspiration, then design and stitch their interpretation. In 2006 the Branch was inspired by the Lindisfarne Gospels for our contribution to the Guild's Centenary celebrations.

Many of our members produced work the major exhibition 'Mining a Golden Seam'. This was not only seen in different venues around the Region and UK, but was also taken to an International Show in Paris to much acclaim.

Workshops and stitching groups enable us to become more proficient in our chosen techniques. Outreach sessions and National Stitch Days in public visitor centres, such as the Cathedral, DLI, and World Heritage Visitor Centre enable us meet with the public to enthuse others.

Having celebrated our 20th Birthday in 2015, we continue to be a very vibrant group. Branch membership is now about 60, most of whom continue to be active stitchers. Our level of ability ranges from the beginner to professional embroiderers and teachers. Our interests include traditional embroidery through to contemporary stitched textiles with mixed media. Examples of our work can be seen on the gallery page.

Many of our members have completed Degrees, Royal School of Needlework and/or City and Guilds courses in embroidery and stitched textiles. However, it is not a prerequisite to have any of these qualifications to join us.

Whatever level of stitching an individual is at, the branch is very welcoming and encourages us all to have fun, develop a strong sense of camaraderie as we pursue our art further.

If you would like to come along to a meeting as a visitor to find out more about the branch, please contact our secretary for more information. Our Events page includes details of our outreach programme and public stitching days.