On Saturday 10 March, Jane Austen’s House Museum hosted a celebration event to mark the completion and display of the finished Jane Austen Community Quilts. Although it was a showery, damp morning, the atmosphere was bright and bustling. Participants travelled from as far afield as Scotland to be at the Museum for the opening. In total around eighty participants attended the event, including those who contributed a nine-inch square and those who had attended community workshops alongside family, friends and supporters.
The event took place in the Learning Centre where there was a real buzz around the finished Jane Austen Community Story Quilt. Measuring 262 x 166.5 cm, the quilt provides an impressive sight against the backdrop of a thick grey frame. Liz Betts, Designer, and Sue Dell, Collections Volunteer Austen Coverle expert, were on-hand to talk about the project. Teas and coffees were served and plenty of photographs were taken, as participants were able to meet each other and share their experiences of being part of the project.
At midday, I was joined by Martyn Dell, Museum Trustee, and we gave speeches thanking the various volunteers, participants and partner organisations. These included the Heritage Lottery Fund, Jane Austen Hampshire Group, Alton Library, Fine Cell Work, Winchester Discovery Centre, Home-Start WeyWater and the Alresford Lacemakers. Councillor Dean-Paul Phillips, Mayor of Alton, also joined us for the proceedings.
Copies of the book Stories in Stitches: Reimagining Jane Austen’s Quilt, charting the journey of the project, were available to purchase. Two of our Museum volunteers provided an artefact handling opportunity, showing visitors some of the fragments that they have been cataloguing as part of the project, all of which were found in the Museum garden.
Once refreshments were finished and the speeches were over, attendees visited the house itself to see the Admirals’ Quilt on display in the Admirals’ Room. This smaller quilt was made by workshop attendees locally using the English paper-piecing technique, reflecting the methods used to create the original coverlet which remains on display in the adjacent room.
It was wonderful to mark the end of an incredible year of activities by sharing the beautiful finished quilts with so many of those involved. We would also like to thank all the community participants across the UK and the world who were unable to make it to the opening event.
Huge thanks also goes to the Heritage Lottery Fund and Jane Austen Hampshire Group, without whom the project wouldn’t have taken place.
The Quilts will be on display from March - December 2018
The two completed quilts will be on display throughout 2018. The larger 'Jane Austen Community Story Quilt' is exhibited in the Learning Centre (subject to opening) whilst the smaller English paper-pieced 'Admirals’ Quilt' is on display in the Admirals’ room.
Please note: the Jane Austen Community Story Quilt will be off limits to visitors when the Learning Centre is in use by a school group or closed for an event. Please call in advance to check if the Learning Centre will be open on your intended date of visit.
Both quilts will not be on display from 8 -13 August 2018 as they are due to be exhibited at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham.