ELHAS Meeting Report - June 2012

Meeting Report June 2012

The June meeting, the last of the summer season, was preceded by the tri-annual general meeting and was attended by 33 members. President Bob Lawrence opened his remarks by paying tribute to Margaret Barnbrook, founder member and society archivist who died last year. He then spoke about the achievements and successes over the last three years and emphasised the good standing of the society in the community. Jacki Lawrence detailed the highlights of the meetings and events programme and requested suggestions for topics and speakers. Bob followed with the treasurer's report. In the absence of any other nominations the existing committee was re-elected.

This was followed by a most unusual talk by Canon Ann Hemsworth, one of our regular speakers. Ann's talk entitled 'Gilt edged in Vestments', was a history of ecclesiastical embroidery, not details of a 'Get Rich Quick' scheme!. Ann began her talk by telling us that the roots of decorated church vestments went as far back as the Book of Exodus where reference was made to 'gifts to beautify the tent'. Over the centuries the designs and embroidery on vestments became increasingly exotic and reached the highest levels during the 14th and 15th centuries when the finest silk was used, embellished with gold and silver threads and decorated with 'discs and spangles' (now known as sequins.) The inspiration for the embroidery designs used came from legends and traditions in the Bible, although contemporary fashions always played a part in the designs of the actual garments. The Church gradually introduced specific colours to identify the liturgy and Church seasons so that the congregation could see from the colour of the priest's vestments what part of the Church's calendar was being celebrated.

Ann told us that current vestment designs are much plainer than in previous times but nonetheless there is still a vast amount of skill and expertise employed by the embroiderers in producing the garments. She also said that nowadays the materials for the garments are often purchased from Asian shops as they stock the exotic silks and other materials which are favoured for these vestments.

Ann concluded her talk by showing some vestments from Manston Church which she had been involved in working on over 50 years ago. The beautiful designs were much admired by the audience who recognised the skill and effort which had gone into producing work of such quality.

The next meeting on Monday 24th September 2012 will be an illustrated talk by Eric Houlder entitled 'Looking Down on History - The Story of Archaeological Aerial Photography'