This website records the twentieth century explosion of folk art across England and Wales, as parishioners designed church kneelers that were local, original and unique. They were inspired by the choir stall seats designed by Sybil Blunt for Winchester Cathedral in the early 1930s.
The Second World War brought creative needlework to an end, but by the 1950s austerity was giving way to a new optimism. Kneeler-making allowed stitchers to be creative and colourful after the many years of making do and mending.
Initially, expert designers such as Louisa Pesel, first President of the Embroiderers Guild, and Joan Edwards, author of embroidery books, thought amateurs were incapable of producing a design and likely to be incompetent at following one. Cautious arrangements of simple, repetitive designs were offered to potential stitchers.
But potential stitchers ignored advisers. They wanted pictures. They produced pictorial designs and stitched kneelers covering an extraordinary variety of subjects. Explore these through Kneeler Search or through the Kneeler Gallery.
The Parish Kneeler website has been created to stimulate creative kneeler-making and to act as an embryo National Archive for church kneelers that are local, original and unique. It has been put together by Elizabeth Bingham, the leading authority on Anglican church kneelers.