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Sutton House

One of the things I find most inspiring is looking at decorative artefacts in museums and houses. As a result, visiting National Trust properties has become my activity of choice when a rare weekend is available. I go with a friend who is also a designer and we always end up having long chats with the volunteers about their favourite bits of the display. I am always touched by their knowledge, enthusiasm and the fact that they are volunteering their time to encourage the learning of anyone who takes an interest.

This needlepoint chair was a real 'wowsers' moment in a recent visit to Sutton House in Hackney. I was caught by the design: it feels graphic and contemporary, despite being executed in 1940. The needlepoint is tiny, precise and very impressive in an allover application situation. The chair frame is 17th Century, which is why it works in the setting and the embroiderer is one Aileen Jowsey. I tried to find more information about Aileen as I would love to discover whether she was also the designer of the pattern and see any other pieces she has made. Unfortunately I drew a blank so cannot give any more info but if anyone else knows anything, please do get in touch.

If you are interested in the National Trust collections, they have an online, searchable database here:

With thanks to Helen Rowse at Sutton House.


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