The project had the aim to connect with the diverse communities of Charnwood to explore their WW1 stories or connections to it. Over three years the groups we worked with got to know more about each other and the ways in which they might fruitfully explore their own one hundred years of history and that of their neighbours.
Birstall Library Crafts Group
This group created a hanging in response to the WW1 Centenary in 2014 incorporating their particular skills in stitching, applique, knitting, crochet and embroidery. Each lady made their own poppy out of cloth, wool, sewing thread or beadwork and they were mounted together on a hessian backing with green stitching to recall the colours and materials of WW1. Marked with a label stating ‘We Will Remember Them’ and the date, this vibrant piece was displayed locally then, with great generosity, lent by the group to the project. It proved inspirational to other community members who then created their own Poppies and Peace hangings.
The Anand Mangal ‘Come to be Happy’ group.
The project linked with this mainly Hindu women’s group in late 2014. A handling session was held with WW1 and Edwardian artefacts leading to discussion about similarities and differences in domestic practice and the shared experience of war. A second session explored some silk embroidered cards sent by the father of parishioner Joan Ward from the Western Front. The ladies discussed their own interest in textiles and how to communicate from far away making vibrant cards themselves. Being mainly from the Gujarat they do not have so much WW1 history but do have an acute understanding of conflict, separation and loss leading them to express their responses to WW1 themes in a range of colourful and creative ways.
Limehurst Ladies Group
Two workshops were held with the group in 2015 looking at WW1 handling items and Edwardian silk cards. A third explored the shared global experience of drinking tea.
These mainly Muslim ladies come from India, Bangladesh, Italy and the Uk and their activities led them to reflections on peace in the world today. Inspired by the work of other groups including Birstall Library Crafts who shared their vibrant poppies textile with them the ladies chose to create a Peace Hanging drawing on their considerable talents in sewing and embroidery and their shared experiences of conflict and loss – reflective of the acute experiences of the families of Loughborough during WW1.
The ladies were invited to display their textile in Charnwood Museum over Holocaust Memorial Day in 2016 where it shared space with other Poppies and Peace Hangings, a peace card and peace cushion all made by groups in response to the WW1 theme.
Quorn Country Crafts Quilters
A key part of the project was to re-position two poorly placed memorials created to honour the fallen of the two, now amalgamated churches, All Saints and Holy Trinity.
In 2015 Margaret Bates, of Quorn Country Crafts Quilters, herself a parishioner, made a quilt with members of her group to commemorate those named on the Holy Trinity memorial. The reason was not to ignore those who fell from All Saints but that they were less in number reflecting the smaller church congregation. Therefore, their names could reasonably be incorporated into a hand sewn quilt.
Margaret sourced two types of printed poppy fabric, one from the USA, and created a design using a traditional template. She then worked with members of Quorn Quilters, who come from across Charnwood to meet at Old Woodhouse Village Hall. They created a beautiful and commemorative piece that was displayed many times and later featured in the All Saints with Holy Trinity Centenary Book of Remembrance; placed beneath the memorials.
The ‘Aspire’ group
At the end of 2015 the project was approached to work with the Aspire group part of the Chances for All project in the town. Inspired by the Poppies and Peace hangings created by others but with less time available, the ladies instead chose to make a Peace Hanging Tree.
Together they discussed what brings peace to the world coming to the same conclusions as soldiers in WW1 might have; that water, food, nature and sleep all have a part to play. They then chose or made items to reflect their thoughts which they hung on a simple ‘tree branch’ reflecting the idea of a Christmas Tree.
The Peace Tree was put into a community display at Charnwood Museum in 2016 viewed by many over Holocaust Memorial Day. Further items made by individuals were included inspired by their reflections on WW1 such as a peace cushion made with cross stitch and an embroidered peace card inspired by a WW1 greetings card.