The Staffordshire Millennium Embroideries

Created by Sylvia M Everitt MBE
Eleventh Century Panel

12th century
13th century
14th century
15th century
16th century
17th century
18th century
19th century
20th century
the map
the map key

At the beginning of the century the Anglo-Saxon peasant-farmers lived along-side their thanes (a Saxon noble) enjoying a form of freedom which was to disappear entirely with the coming of William the Conqueror and the introduction of his Norman Feudalism. Sylvia has depicted these pre=feudal days with Leofric, the Earl of Mercia at the time of Edward the Confessor and his wife Lady Godiva (she who made the legendary ride, naked, through the streets of Coventry) at their favourite Hall House in Kings Bromley. The idea of an indoor staircase had not yet taken root and stone steps on the outside of the Hall lead up to a first floor entrance.

Leofric's grandson, Edwin, Earl of Mercia and the most powerful lord in the Midlands, played a part in King Harold's defeat at Hastings be being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Northumbria had broken out against Harold's brother, Earl Tostig, insisting that they should be governed by Edwin's brother Morcar, so Harold marched his troops up to Yorkshire to settle matters. While he was there he took Edwin and Morcar's sister as his wife in an effort to cement better relations between himself and these two powerful earls. Tostig was obviously upset - his brother had not only sided with Edwin and Morcar against him and given away his realm, but he had even married into the opposition's family! He called upon the kings of Scotland and Norway to help fight his corner and so Edwin, seeing his brother's new realm under threat, marched his men up north to his aid. Tostig's supporters won the ensuing battle and King Harold was forced to march to York to protect his own northern kingdom. A few days later, on 25th September 1066, another battle took place in which both Tostig and the King of Norway were killed and Harold was the victor.

Unfortunately, this family infighting up north came at a time when Harold would have been better employed guarding his southern coasts for Duke William of Normandy, taking advantage of Harold's absence, landed without opposition at Pevensy in Suzzex on 1st October...... now read on,

The above extract is from the book written by Dianne Mannering about the history of Staffordshire woven into Sylvia Everitt's embroideries. Click here to find out more about the book or to buy a signed copy



From Sylvia's library
The Celtic Book of Living and Dying by Juliette Wood.
Does exactly what it says on the tin.....the heroes, gods and goddesses, magic and nature worship are all covered in this book, a collective of Celtic wisdom.
Celtic is a difficult adjective to define; the enigmatic Celts seem to have crept into the historical record around the early Iron Age in Central Europe and moved gradually westward over the centuries until eventually reaching Ireland.
There is a lovely mix of whimsy and fact here from fairies, magic monsters and King Arthur to Boudicca and the Druids. The full colour illustrations are gorgeous in typical Celtic/Byzantine style with plenty of intricate Celtic Knotwork. I felt the urge to turn them into embroideries.
The book's chapters on Celtic beliefs and sacred celebrations are interspersed with individual illustrated stories about Saints, magical beings, animals and heroes. There are also several Celtic bardic poems quoted.
The Celts aspired tolive by a druidical three point code - do no evil - worship the gods - and be manly. In battle they were certainly "manly", Roman writers report that they went into combat stark naked except for a neck torc, sword and war trumpet plus, of course, the famous drooping Celtic moustache!
In this book the beautiful artwork alone is worth the purchase price and is also a good source book for Celtic design.
A Chronicle of Folk Customs by Brian Day
How do you fancy gurning* on the 24th August? Or how about chasing a cheese down a steep hill in May? This book will tell you where to go, how to get there and much much more.
It is a compendium of "occasions" listed month by month throughout the year. Religious fesivals, folk festivals, mop fairs, well dressing, agricultural festivals you name it - it is here, with a brief description of the goings-on and, in lieu of anything more concrete, a hazarded guess as to why. How about joining in a game of "Keaw Yed" at Westhoughton near Wigan? Any number can play, all you need is a cows head (Keaw Yed) and a Rugby type game follows. Originally, a pie was madefrom the cows head after the game and was enjoyed by all! Yuk!
This is a fascinating book telling of customs and folklore which, in some instances, date back over 1000years or more. Sadly, as told in the book, some of the celebrations have fallen foul of our "elf and safety" rules but,happily, a few still carry on in small out-of-the-way villages, the origins and meaning of the celebrations known only to the inhabitants.
There are some good vintage photographs illustrating some of the traditions, from the style of dress, I would guess they were taken in the 1930s. A delightful plus at the end of the book is several delicious recipes for each month - January Twelfth Cake. April Simnel Cake and Hot Cross Buns, November Soul Cake and St.Clements Tart.
This could be a useful book for planning outings or just to dip in and out of.Useful too, in that should you fancy visiting one of the festivals the book gives you start times, date and road directions.
Go, and enjoy some of Britain's ancient traditions.
*Gurning - putting your head through a horse collar and pulling the ugliest face possible!
Sylvia's review:
The Year 1000 - What Life was like at the turn of the First Millennium. By Robert Lacy and Danny Danziger.
For anyone curious to know what was happening in England before the usual cut-off date of 1066 - this book is for you.
Based on the Julius Work Calendar which was written by a monk of Canterbury around 1020, it list the high days and holy days of the Roman Church. Each chapter is headed with a charming little vignette of the agricultural task to be done in that month. Drawn in the typically naive medieval style each time I look at them I feel inspired to translate them into embroidery.
The world of 1000AD is less complicated with religion and women had more equality with men than post-Norman conquest. It presents the Anglo-Saxons as down-to earth, pragmatic and hard-working, although, some of the old English law codes of "Enga-lond" would appear strange to modern eyes, for example, "if a man fondle the breasts of a free woman uninvited, he shall be fined five shillings". The rape of a free woman incurred the penalty of sixty shillings, payable direct to the victim. This was the time of "Wer-geld" when everything and everyone had their price!
And this book is priceless for giving an in depth insight into the world of our highly skilled but often under-rated and ignored Anglo-Saxon forebears

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