After making a photographic inventory of the kneelers in St Lawrence Church, Church Warden and Keeper of Fabrics, Heather Balston, wrote an article for the Friends of St Lawrence Newletter issue no. 26. The Newsletter was published and distributed to Friends' members * in Autumn 2016.
We are grateful to Heather and to the Friends of St Lawrence Committee who have agreed to allow adapted extracts from that article to be reproduced here on the village website.
St Lawrence Church has 107 embroidered kneelers, or hassocks as they are sometimes called, plus just a few made from fabric only. Many of the central motifs are taken from corbels and bosses in the church. Some of them have an obvious symbolic meaning; in others the meaning is obscure. Some are purely decorative, and some are portraits. The original corbels and bosses were gilded, but the designs have been interpreted in colour, according to the whim of the designer, or when relevant, by the rules of heraldry. Subjects have also been taken from other carvings and decorations in the church, from traditional Christian symbols and from manuscripts in the Cathedral Library, which came originally from Old Sarum, before the present Cathedral and our own Parish Church were built.
The kneelers were made in two groups. The first comprised about 35 kneelers which were all designed by Kathleen Falkner and made between 1958 and 1960. The second, larger group was designed following the same thematic approach, mainly by Lucy Judd, and made in 1970 – 1973.
In both periods the designs were worked on embroidery canvas using woollen threads.
The technique is known as Canvas Work. An attempt was made to include St Lawrence’s Gridiron and his Martyr’s Crown in each design. Many villagers were involved in producing the two batches of kneelers and the initials of the person who worked the design and the date it was finished were incorporated into the design of each kneeler in the second group.
* The Friends of St Lawrence is a local charitable organisation. (Registered Charity No. 1063271). For more information about this organisation, click here.