The Wonder Quilt of Wrexham
The Wrexham Tailor’s Quilt is one of the iconic artefacts of St Fagans: National Museum of History. Last displayed in Wrexham at the arts and crafts exhibition during the 1933 National Eisteddfod, the quilt is returning to its home town for a special display in Gallery 1 at Wrexham County Borough Museum & Archives.
The quilt is actually a single-layer patchwork coverlet made from 4,525 pieces of coloured woollen cloth. The design includes scenes from the Bible, landmarks of 19th century Wales and motifs symbolizing the four nations of the United Kingdom and world cultures. It is one of the few surviving examples of the fashion among highly skilled tailors during the mid-19th century for producing massive yet detailed patchwork hangings and bedcovers.
The quilt which took master tailor, James Williams, ten years is thought to have made it first public appearance at the Art Treasures and Industrial Exhibition of North Wales and Border Counties in 1876. It was also displayed at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1925. The National Museum of Wales purchased the quilt from James Williams grandson, Richard Williams, in 1935 following a letter from a local solicitor who had highlighted its cultural importance to Wales as an example of folk art.
More recently it has been the star attraction in textile exhibitions at leading museums in London, Berlin and Vienna. The quilt was the centre piece of the 2014 British Folk Art exhibition at Tate Britain.
The quilt will be on show at Wrexham Museum from 12th May until 25th November 2017. Alongside the quilt will be a series of small wall quilts, inspired by James Williams masterpiece and produced by the members of the Quilters’ Guild (Region 13 – North Wales and North-West England).
The display has been curated in partnership with the textile conservators and curators of St Fagans: National Museum of History.