A Stitch in Time

A volunteer with a passion for heritage is putting her creativity to good use in Wensleydale.

Sue Stokes is a volunteer wood worker at the historic visitor attraction Gayle Mill. She is also a volunteer at Bolton Castle and founding member of the Friends of Bolton Castle. She is currently working on a project to recreate examples of the type of tapestries Mary Queen of Scots would have made during her imprisonment in the Dale.

Sue has combined her skills to make the wooden frame for her latest tapestry at Gayle Mill. The embroidery itself depicts a Gleade (a Kite) reflecting Mary’s interest in birds of prey. Once the tapestry is mounted the frame will no longer be visible but Sue has included a time capsule of information explaining where the frame came from.

“If ever the tapestry is dismantled the story of where it came from will be preserved. The frame has been branded with the Gayle Mill logo and a written description attached to its back. I have also hidden my initials and date (SAS 2012) on the edge of the embroidery” explains Sue.

Sue’s tapestry will be displayed alongside 3 others of her creation in the Bed Chamber where Mary Queen of Scots slept during here time at the Castle in 1568/9. Sue is looking forward to continuing to work on the series. With 3 more in the pipe line she has her work cut out, each one taking about a year to make! 

“Sue’s tapestries really add to the sense of history in Mary Queen of Scots bedchamber. Visitors can imagine Mary spending long hours sitting over her embroidery while she waited for Elizabeth to decide her fate.

Mary stayed at the Castle for six months from July 1568 until January 1569 and although she was treated as a royal guest and given plenty of freedom it must have been an anxious time for her as it was during this time that an enquiry was carried out into her husband’s murder.

Each of the tapestries displayed in the room has an information sheet explaining the image depicted and the background behind it. They really add to the colour and interpretation of the room. We are very grateful to Sue for the many many hours of work she has put into creating these beautiful pieces for us.” Katie Boggis, General Manager, Bolton Castle.

Much of the work taking place to preserve the heritage of the Dales has fallen to the hands of volunteers over recent years. Their passion and dedication keeps these gems of our history open and available to the public. If you are interested in volunteering at Gayle Mill or Bolton Castle get in touch (01969 667320 or 01969 623981) to offer your support. Or you can support from a distance by joining the Friends groups.

Gayle Mill is a restored 19th century state-of-the-art sawmill, complete with Victorian machinery driven by water-powered turbines. Visit www.gaylemill.org.uk to learn more about Mill Tours, Heritage Education, Events and Volunteering at Gayle Mill.

Bolton Castle is one of the country's best preserved medieval castles, situated in the heart of Wensleydale with stunning views over the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It is open for visitors and hosts a range of special events throughout the year. For more information about the castle and its opening times visit www.boltoncastle.co.uk

Add new comment