Heritage open day to uncover hidden treasures at St John's Church in Sharow

Embroidered stole thought to date to the 19th century.
Embroidered stole thought to date to the 19th century.

Hidden treasures from St John's Church in Sharow will soon go on display for the first time in over a decade.

As part of the national Heritage Open Days, the church is unveiling collections of hand embroidered textiles dating back 200 years, on September 9, 10am to 4pm.

Joan Wilkinson, a member of the Norther Guild of Embroiders, was invited to examine the contents of a chest which was lying alongside boxes, trestle tables and even Christmas decorations.

The chest was found when churchwardens began clearing the side chapel for building works at St John's, and was brought to the attention of the church's Heritage Officer, Joseph Priestley.

Joan said the textiles she discovered in the chest are some of the finest she has seen in the region.

She said: "I have spent many years working with historic textiles but these are some of the finest I have seen in our region - the amount of work that has gone into creating them is quite staggering, there’s literally a lifetime’s work on display.”

Now, Joan and a group of embroiderers are helping to conserve the collections for future generations to enjoy.

Visitors to the church on September 9 will be able to see the embroiderers at work, see the pieces up close, and even try their hand at making textiles.

The Rev Ruth Newton, parish priest of Sharow, said: “This collection of embroidery is a wonderful example of how people have used their skills and time to the glory of God. We hope to use them in future to add colour and spectacle to our worship.”

To find out more about the open day and the collections, email Joseph Priestley: joepriestley@riponcathedral.org.uk, or call during office hours on 01765 603462.