back story l INSPIRATION The Quilting Archives WITH CURATOR HEATHER AUDIN OF THE QUILTERS’ GUILD THE BETSY COPE QUILT 1872 | 191cm x 214cm T his interesting double Irish Chain patchwork is made from a variety of cotton dress prints, and uses Turkey Red squares to accentuate the central block, which contains the embroidered name and details of the maker “Betsy Jane Cope, Hunmanby, Aged 13”. We know from family history resources that Betsy was born in 1859, which means this piece was completed in 1872. Betsy’s father was a blacksmith and she had three sisters and one brother. The quilt is linked to a very impressive house known as Batsworth House, or “The Villa” in Hunmanby, a small village near Scarborough in North Yorkshire. This grand house, built by Charles Reynolds Senior, was the largest in the village, and featured a generous bay window, a conservatory on the front of the house, and chimney pots with hexagonal and diamond patterning. Betsy’s older sister, Esther Emma Cope, married Charles Reynolds Junior in 1872, the same year as the date of the quilt. It could have been possible that Betsy made this for her sister. Esther was 21 years old when she married Charles, aged 32, and their family backgrounds were certainly a little different. Charles and his father were both drapers and grocers, though by the time of their wedding, Charles Senior is listed as a gentleman on the wedding certificate, and his grand house would certainly attest to his social position. In contrast, Esther was a domestic servant, as was Betsy before she went on to own her own confectionary shop in the village. Charles’ younger life had been tainted with tragedy. He had lost his mother at a young age, and was sent to a Blue Coats School in London for motherless boys whose fathers had to work, before returning to Hunmanby once he had finished his schooling. Although the quilt is quite sturdy, there were many squares where the cotton had deteriorated, revealing the wadding underneath. It has since been meticulously netted with fine conservation net by one of our conservation volunteers to allow it to be displayed! This fine netting stabilises the piece without detracting from the original fabrics and allows the quilt to be handled and exhibited safely, preventing any further deterioration. To learn more about the fantastic work of The Guild or to become a member, head to their website www.quiltersguild.org.uk and follow them on social media! www.facebook.com/QuiltersGuild @ thequiltersguild 90
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