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Altar frontal at All Saints, Leek, designed by Richard Norman Shaw, 1887 (detail). This is of special interest because it was designed by the architect himself (Pevsner 170n.). Its flowers and pomegranates — the latter, a symbol of the resurrection — echo motifs in the painted decoration of the chancel.

Church embroidery had become a well-organised art in recent years (see Walker 126), and All Saints has a splendid collection of it. Nothing could better show the heights to which it had reached by this time than this lovely frontal. Featured in The Watts Book of Embroidery, it is described there as having been "made in 1887 by the Leek Embroidery Society," and as incorporating "plain and printed silk plushes applied with both Wardle's woven tussore silks and canvas embroidered with tussore silk flosses and Japanese gold thread" (34). Andrew Saint tells us that Shaw's daughter joined the Sisters of Bethany, one of the leading lights in this craft, so it is no wonder that he should have been personally involved in this project.

Related Material


Pevsner, Nikolaus. The Buildings of England: Staffordshire. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002.

Saint, Andrew. "Shaw, Richard Norman (1831–1912), architect." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Web. 10 November 2015.

Schoeser, Mary, with contributions from Margaret Bolger, Beryl Patten Moss and Cynthia Weaver, with additional research by Ilse Ritchie. English Church Embroidery 1833-1953. 2nd ed. London: Watts & Co. 1998.

Walker, Lynn. "Women and Church Art." The Victorian Society Studies in Architecture and Design, Volume Three: Churches 1870-1914. Ed. Teresa Sladen and Andrew Saint. London, 2011. 121-143.

Last modified 11 November 2015