"Whence did the wondrous mystic Art arise
Of painting speech and speaking to the eyes
That we by tracing magic lines are taught
How both to colour and embody thought."
Sampler verse 1828
Many museums and stately homes have a stunning array of samplers on display. The Samplers Showcase page offers information on places to visit to see permanent sampler displays and special sampler exhibitions in the UK and Europe.
It is always advisable to make sure the collections are available for viewing before travelling long distances.
The first American Museum outside the USA illustrating 200 years of American history; has a marvellous quilts collection, and room setting from various periods many with samplers on display.
Blaise Castle House Museum
High Street, Kirkcudbright, Scotland
Tel: (0557) 30437
The Burrell Collection
Camphill Museum, Glasgow
Presented to Glasgow in 1944 by the millionaire William Burrell, the Collection was amassed over 80 years of his life and is outstanding in its wealth and diversity.
Cambridge and County Folk Museum
2/3 Castle Street, Cambridge CB3 0AQ
Tel: (0223) 355159
Dorset County Museum
Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge
Has one of the best sampler collections in the country.
Guildford Museum, Guildford
Tel: 0483 444750
Hove Museum and Art Gallery
19 New Church Road, Hove, East Sussex BN3 4AB
Tel: (0273) 779410
Lady Lever Art Gallery
Port Sunlight, Merseyside
Llandrindod Wells Museum
Temple Street, Llandrindod Wells, Powys LD1 5DL
Tel: (05097) 4513
Douglas, Isle of Man
Montacute House, Yeovil
The Goodhart Collection of Samplers
National Museum of Wales
St Fagans, Cardiff
Nottingham Museum of Costume and Textiles
1 Castle Gate, Nottingham NG1 6AF
Tel: (0602) 48504
Old House Museum
Cunningham Place. Bakewell, Derbyshire
Parham Park, Pulborough
Visit this stunning Elizabethan House to view a marvellous collection of samplers and embroideries.
Priest House, West Hoathly
Beautiful 15th Century Wealden hall-house in classic English country garden setting. Folk museum and formal herb garden.
Royal Scottish Museum
Rufford Old Hall
Liverpool Road, Rufford. Lancashire L43 1FG
Tel: (0704) 821254
Seven miles north of Ormskirk in the village of Rufford is one of the finest sixteenth century buildings in Lancashire, Rufford Old Hall. This magnificent mediaeval building, is timber-framed in Tudor style, and is memorable for its ornate hammer beam roof and screen. It stores fine collections of seventeenth century arms, armour and tapestries. Owned by the National Trust, Rufford Hall is open from the beginning of April to the end of October, Saturdays to Wednesdays, 1-5pm. The grounds provides a picnic site, and light refreshments are available on the site. There is a souvenir shop.
The Shuttleworth Collection,
The textile collections of Hon. Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth, who died in 1968, are nationally famous and comprise of over 14,000 examples, including embroidery, lace, costumes and accessories. Due to limited space and the need to ensure their preservation, only around 500 pieces can be displayed at any one time, but the displays are changed continually and offer the finest examples of their kind outside London.
Strangers' Hall Museum
Medieval house with period room settings from Tudor to Victorian times. Holds a large collection of samplers dating from the seventeenth century onwards with examples of long samplers, map samplers and darning samplers; also has a wonderful collection of embroidery with examples from the sixteenth century onwards, including raised work, stumpwork and Berlin woolwork.
Ulster Folk Museum
Skills once commonly practiced such as lace and sampler making, spinning, weaving, woodturning and forgework are among many demonstrated and taught at the museum.
Victoria and Albert Museum
A selection of about 5,000 textiles is available in the Textile Study Rooms (Galleries 95-101) in self-service pull-out frames which can be taken to which can be taken to which can be taken to study tables for close examination. One notable piece is the Jane Bostocke sampler.
The samplers in this collection date from 1742 and most were bequeathed to the museum by Eveleen Perkins, a member of a well-known local family.
Pannett Park, Whitby, North Yorkshire YO21 1RE
Tel: 01947 602908
Whitby Museum has one of the best collections of needlework samplers in the UK (second only to that at the Fitzwilliam Museum). There are a total of just under a hundred samplers, the earliest dating from 1714 and the latest being worked in 1992. Many, if not most, have local connections, and are part of Whitby's history and heritage, particularly of the Quakers.
96-100 Corn Street, Witney, Oxon OX8 7BU
Tel: 0993 703902
Situated in a small town in Oxfordshire, Witney Antiques has one of the best sampler collections in Europe. The samplers are available both for viewing and purchase, and special exhibitions are organized annually.
Whitworth Art Gallery
The collection of historic and modern textiles is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind outside London. It ranges in date from post-Pharaonic Egyptian textiles of the 4th-11th centuries AD to 2 0th-century industrially-produced furnishing fabrics and contemporary craft textiles. The work of William Morris and other Arts and Crafts designers is well represented, while other important holdings include woven and embroidered textiles of 16th and 17th century Spanish and Italian origin, and a distinguished collection of Mediterranean and Islamic embroideries dating from the 17th to the 19th centuries.
Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen, Denmark
Museum fur Deutsche Volkskunde, West Berlin
Palais im Prinzengarten, 29223 Celle,
The best museum for old samplers, open every day from 10 am to 5 pm except on Mondays and Fridays.
Stickereimuseum in 57399 Oberhundem
Small museum about 100 km east of Cologne, opening hours 2 - 5 pm everey day(?)
(Information from rctn spring 1999)
Het Nederlands Openluchtmuseum, Arnhem
For those of you in the UK, Witney Antiques are again holdiong their annual sampler exhibition:
Witney Antiques Annual Textile Exhibition.
Samplers - An Exceptional Endeavour
Monday 13th October to Saturday 1st November 2003
Exhibition opening times:
Monday to Saturday 10.00am - 5.00pm
Also Sunday 19th October and Sunday 26th October
At: Witney Antiques. 96-100 Corn Street, Witney, Oxfordshire, OX28 6BU
This year many of the samplers in our exhibition will have a Scottish connection and have been wrought by young girls from the highlands and lowlands, small villages, hamlets and towns. Other samplers have been worked throughout the length and breadth of England and present a comparison with their Scottish counterparts.
Even the descendents of embroiderers who dated and signed their work may find it difficult to trace the relationship with their forbear. When there is no date or signature any relationship is usually lost in the mists of time. The unique thing however about Scottish samplers is that many of them contain pairs of family initials which give clues to the identity of the embroideress and her family thus making genealogical research easier.
A full colour catalogue will be available from Oct 1st 2003. Most items in the exhibition will be for sale.