Northampton Charter artwork that took 5,000 hours to complete is now ready to be unveiled

Gill Lindsay with the finished embroidery
Gill Lindsay with the finished embroidery

An impressive piece of embroidered artwork that took more than 5,000 hours to complete will be unveiled at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery next month.

The artwork was commissioned by Northampton Borough Council, and the project was led by embroiderer, Gill Lindsay, who completed at 2,500 hours on the project alone, before receiving support from volunteers around the community.

It celebrates the 825th anniversary of the granting of a Charter to Northampton in 1189. The first, centre panel, which was completed by Mrs Lindsay, was presented at Charter Day last year. Now, the remaining 10 panels have been completed.

The original design was created by artist Chris Fiddes, a former head of art at Northampton High School and a well-known local historian.

Mrs Lindsay said they had originally asked for a straightforward design, but it ended up not being the case.

“We wanted something not quite as complicated from the point of view of stitching, but Chris did an absolutely wonderful design, with lots of detail. But you have to have a challenge!” she said.

Every square inch of the six-foot by four-foot artwork was stitched using complex, dense stitching techniques.

“I started stitching in March 2014, and we decided we couldn’t actually do the whole thing in time for the 825th anniversary, so I concentrated on the centre panel. I did all of that in six months. I think it would have taken me about 2,500 hours. It was quite a challenge,” she added.

Previous pieces have taken Mrs Lindsay about 40-50 hours, so it was considerably more.

One the centre panel was complete, a team of about 35 volunteers started work on the remaining panels. Each panel depicts a building through the ages.

“The 13th Century depicts St Peters Chruch, the 14th Century is Holy Sepulchre Church, 15th Century is St Giles Church, 16th Century is the old Guildhall, which was demolished in the 17th Century, and that is the only building in the piece that isn’t still standing, the 17th Century is the Sessions House, the 18th Century is All Saints, the 19th Century is the current Guildhall and the 20th Century is the Mount Baths,” Mrs Lindsay said.

The volunteers, which included groups from St Matthews Church in Northampton and an embroidery group in Silverstone, passed the work around between but, again, clocked up about 2,500 hours.

“I have really really enjoyed doing it. I was born in Northampton and feel I have given something back to Northampton. It will be really exciting to see it in the museum and hopefully it will stay there for a very long time,” Mrs Lindsay added.