The Staffordshire Millennium Embroideries

Created by Sylvia M Everitt MBE

Twelfth 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

Staffordshire Millennium Embroideries 12th century panelThere is no certainty as to how long the people of Lichfield have been celebrating Whit Monday with the Greenhill Bower Festival. As with the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance (see 11th century panel), the festival has changed and adapted to the requirements of each successive generation and it probably bears scant resemblance to the rites performed eight hundred years ago. The day starts with the crowning of the Bower Queen and then a procession winds through the main streets of the City and ends at the Bower House erected for the occasion on Greenhill. One popular theory has its origins in the fact that King Henry II needed to know how many fighting men he could reply upon and how well equiped they might be to wage war for him (remember that there was no regular army at this time). To obtain this information the City Fathers decreed that all men between the age of fifteen and sixty should gather on Greenhill so that a View of Arms could take place. After the ceremony a procession was formed to lead the men-of-arms back down to the Market Square where, now that the serious business was over and done with, everyone spent the rest of the day merrymaking. 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
Sylvia's review:
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 Brother Cadfael Series by Ellis Peters

Ellis Peters, real name Edith Pargeter, winner of the Crime Writers Diamond Dagger, wrote some twenty odd novels about the sleuthing monk of Shrewsbury Abbey and each one of them is a gem.
I rarely read fiction preferring historical biographies or reference books but after discovering Brother Cadfael, quite by chance, some years ago I confess a weakness for them. I marvel at the immaculate period research and the skillful inter-weaving of factual characters with the fictional. If you have never read a "Cadfael" but only know him through, what was, in my opinion, the inferior T.V. series,which played fast and loose with Ellis Peters' plots and, to their detriment, re-wrote most of them, please try reading one of her books.
The stories, although each being a complete tale in itself, are sequentially set in the 12th Century during the time of the Civil Wars between King Stephen ( Grandson of William the Conqueror) and Empress Matilda (daughter of Henry I who was the son of William the Conqueror). If possible try to start with "A Rare Benedictine" which tells of Brother Cadfael's conversion from a fighting Crusader to a herb-garden tending detectiver monk
If you like a good detective yarn with the twist of being set in the 12th Century I recommend this series, they are unput-downable.
Sylvia's review:
The Staffordshire Hoard by Kevin Leahy and Roger Bland
This delightful little book attempts to date The Hoard and theorises on the how and why it came to be found in a field in Burntwood Staffordshire.
The book is well illustrated in full colour with photos of various pieces of the hoard, some still have the mud of centuries clinging to them.
The skill and craftsmanship of the Anglo-Saxon goldsmiths cannot be doubted(and they call this period the Dark Ages?) and the similarities between the Hoard and the treasure of King Raedwald unearthed at Sutton Hoo in 1939 are striking.
The story of Terry Herbert's exciting find, using a metal detector, is told in the first chapter, the second gives a short outline of the life and times of Anglo-Saxon England plus some thoughts on the how and why of the Hoard.
For those of us who have been fortunate enough to have seen the Hoard this book is a treasured memento and for those of us who have not a spur to make the effort to see it.
One pound of the purchase price is donated to a fund for the conservation of the delicate jewels.

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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