'Hang out the Banners'
Audrey Dawson

The two large banners, normally to be seen hanging at the eastern ends of the north and south side aisles of St Faith's, were worked over a period of 18 months by a group of fourteen ladies. Three men also gave their expertise: one helping with design, another with making the pole and brackets on which to hang them and yet another to do all the printing, advertising and explaining our work.

Each lady used her own particular talent to depict various events that had taken place during the 100 years of St. Faith's life, together with items of local and national interest, using various forms of embroidery and craft. As each member of the team undertook to do certain item ;it was up to the individual to depict it in her own way, and a variety of stitches was used: we have, crossstitch, applique, topstitching, stumpwork, beadwork,shadowwork, to name but a few.

One lady used her computer to design the face of Bishop Runcie and then worked it in crossstitch. I told Lord Runcie about the banners when he attended the Centenary Dinner at Merchant Taylors; he was delighted to be included and gave me his signature both as Bishop Runcie and as Lord Runcie, we then enlarged them on a photocopier, transferred them to material and worked them in stemstitch. We also had a letter from Bishop Nigel McCulloch saying how pleased he was to be included, and Bishop David Sheppard was also very interested. Another lady used a photocopier to transfer paper images of all the Royal Weddings on to material. All the monarchs during the century are there with a crown above their heads - apart from Edward VIII who was never crowned.

One lady decided to illustrate fashion throughout the century, and others undertook to do the names of all Saint Faith’s ordinands, vicars and church wardens, together with the two ordinands who later became Bishops. On the banners you can follow the spiritual life of Lord Runcie, as priest, bishop, Archbishop of Canterbury, and finally as Lord Runcie.

The coloured year numbers on the banners represent the stained glass windows and the two stumpwork butterflies are those that frequent the church from time to time.

When all the ladies had finished their particular pieces we had a full meeting laying everything out, and then our machinist came into her own by sewing everything into position. The last job was highlighting various items with coloured braid.

To follow all the designs there is an excellent booklet available, explaining the thoughts behind each piece which I hope you will read. Further details and photographs can be seen online by following this link. The banners are taken down during the penitential seasons.

Finally, I  hope someone is making notes of things of interest to hand down to whoever will organise the next banners in 2100 - it won't be me!

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