A Tour of the St Fagans Textile Showroom

Today, a small but perfectly formed group of our members toured the St Fagan’s Textile showroom with Curator Elen Phillips. And, what a treasure trove it is.

On entering the showroom there were shelves full of coracle boats, woven baskets, spinning wheels and agricultural instruments alongside an extremely intersting array of hand made walking sticks. Through the door and we were in with the textiles. An enormous secret treasure trove of delights.


Space is tight in the showroom so Elen picked out a few beautiful small quilts to show us. The first was this quilt made from silk ribbon. The design is quite modern but the quilt is quite old.

ribbon quilt

She then showed us a traditional Welsh quilt made with cotton fabrics and a plain backing and densley quilted with an intricate design. This is the back of the quilt

back welsh  quilt

We were then treated to a bright red and white quilt. Again densley quilted.

red quilt

Elen pointed out that these quilts were made to be functional. There was not therefore, great attention given to making sure lines were straight etc.

This changed however, in the early 1920s when the Rural Industry Board was established to develop rural industries by providing technical advice and assistance to country workshops. Quilts were then made for sale in London and to people who wanted to support the crafts.

This quilt made from velvet was one such quilt.

velvet quilt

And this is a beautiful night dress case quilted with a different design on both sides.

nightdress case front

nightdress quilt back

As well as quilts we viewed pockets that women wore under their dresses. Some beautifully embroidered



Quilted ones

quilted pockets

And a leather one that was used by a woman who sold eggs and butter.

leather pocket

We were also treated to a peek into sewing boxes. This one housed hundreds of little paper patchwork templates. So many, that the lid wouldn’t close properly!

box templates

And, this little box contained sewing tools and little personal secrets in the bottom of the box. The little package contains a morsel of wedding cake.

sewing box wedding cake

And just look at this exquisite little needle case

needle case

As our visit coincided with the commemoration of the First World War Elen showed us a few things that had recently been exhibited at Llandaff Cathedral.

This heart pin cushion was made by a soldier during the First World War. He made it for his mother who kept it under a glass dome. Consequently, it is in excellent condition.

heart pin cushion

This beaded butterfly and the necklace, created from paper, was made by injured soldiers.

OT crafts

The banqueting hall at St Fagan’s Castle was used as a hospital during the First World War.

This British Red Cross Uniform belonged to Elizabeth Radcliffe.

Elizabeth Radcliffe red cross uniform

A wonderful experience and we are very grateful to Elen for giving us her time to share in the wonders of the storeroom. We would have loved to stay for longer and look forward to the opportunity of a return visit in the future to delve deeper into the storerooms secret stash!

The following day Monica had the unexpected pleasure of a visit to the National Wool Museum of wales and Curlew Weavers. Click here to read er account of the visit.



  1. Pam Stead

    Thank you Monica for organising this. It was a fantastic experience to enter what seemed to be a rather unpromising glorified shed and turned out to be Aladdin’s Cave! Such fascinating things everywhere – several of us would have been happy to be locked in for the night! And all beautifully curated, wrapped in tissue paper. Just like my quilts….

  2. Monica Dennis

    You’re welcome. It was a wonderful treat and there is so a treasure trove yet to explore if we get many chances again in the future?!

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