I wonder do you know of the Elizabeth Parker sampler? I did not and it is very haunting I think.
Elizabeth stitches a 'one page journal' I would describe it as. There are no pretty patterns or pictures or indeed ABC or 123.
It starts ... ' As I cannot write I put this down simply and freely as I might speak to a person to whose
intimacy and tenderness I can fully in trust myself'
You learn as you read on that Elizabeth was born in 1813 to a simple life. Her Father was a labourer and Mother a charity teacher, and Elizabeth lived with them and her 10 brothers and sisters.
At the age of 13 Elizabeth leaves home to become a nursery nurse in a house, and stitches, she works for Mr and Mrs F.
She endured terrible cruelty there and because she spurred Mr F and his sexual advances he threw her down some stairs.
This tormented poor Elizabeth and she speaks of her desire to go to the woods and end her life, although her faith stopped her. The sampler as it has been named records her personal emotional turmoil.
It ends ... 'What will become of my soul'
As you read this sampler you can not help but wonder what happened to this poor young woman. In addition what would she think of her most private thoughts being read over a 100 years later. I felt guilty about reading it on one hand and privileged on the other.
This piece of stitching history which bares Elizabeth's inner feelings is stitched in red and all in tiny cross stitches..... It jumps out at you.
So what did happen to Elizabeth? When reading it, she makes you feel she will die young and unhappy.
Well in 1998 Nigel Llewellyn established Elizabeth,s identity with details of her family - however it was an American historian Maureen Daly Goggin who uncovered her adult life.
Elizabeth remained a single woman and went on in the foot steps of her mother and became a school teacher back in her home town of Ashburnham. Elizabeth lived in one of the Almshouses there and died on the 10 April 1889 aged 76. One of her sisters children lived with Elizabeth so you feel she was surrounded by her family and was happy.
This amazing piece of stitching is on show at the Victoria and Albert museum in London. The V & A opens daily at 10am.
I have given you a taster but it is worth going to see if you can. Happy Stitching!