what an achievement

By Juliet Hemingray


Above and below: Some of the beautiful choir pew carvings in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray.

In 2016 we were approached by St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, to design several sets for when the refurbishments to the church were completed.

Last February, just before our first Covid-19 lockdown happened, we received the order to go ahead with all items that had been donated at that point. There are still a few to be ordered, but patience will win in the end.

On my first meeting to the church I spotted the lovely choir pew carvings which I could not ignore. The first stage on a large project is photography while the light is still good. I then sit on the floor with my suitcase of samples open and begin to do my usual matching of colours to the windows and furnishings so that everything will match when installed.

I love that part of the process - starting at matching the reds, I work my way through the spectrum until I have a full rainbow of colours, which are sometimes subdued, sometimes bright.

Measurements come next. On this occasion we had to bear in mind that there was no new furniture in situ yet and so we worked closely with Treske to dovetail in with their Nave Altar and Lectern designs.

We had to fit our stretched embroidered pieces so that they fitted into the altar and lectern and could be changed with the seasonal colours.


Our designer Rebecca did a brilliant job on the design, which was highly technical in places. Our supervisor Shirley had the task of laying out the complex design - she managed the challenge very successfully. Some of the project was done on our digital embroidery machine by Nargus, who was very adept at working out that side of it.

This was an amazing whole team project and so much was learned along the way, including how to work on a difficult project using Whatsapp during a lockdown!!

Can't wait to be back in the studio together again. Decision making will be so much easier!

Jeni and Stephanie were able to beautifully embroider all the designs and I did an occasional bit of stitching and choosing of cords, as during the last year I have been mainly on office work at home with an occasional trip to the studio when I need to. Nargus and Rebecca L. also did most of the construction on this year long project.

My main input was at the end with Jonathon when we stretched all the Frontals and  High and Nave Altars. Then we had the joy of delivering everything.

I am so thrilled with the result we have all achieved as a team during this year of pandemic. What a wonderful challenge it has been.

Thank you to all at St Mary's for entrusting us with this project for you.