35 years ago (1984) a lady put an advert in a shop window in Congleton, Cheshire, asking if anyone wanted to get together and form a patchwork and quilting group. There were about five responses and so the group was formed. They met regularly and as they quickly grew they had to move to bigger premises to accommodate the members. Thus the Beartown Patchwork & Quilters came into being and we now have over 50 members.
Congleton is called Beartown because in the 1600’s the dancing bear became ill and died just before the Wakes week fun and festivities were due to begin. I know it is very incorrect now but the bear was very popular with locals and generated income for the town. There was no money to buy a new one but there was a sum of money set aside for a new town bible. The bible money was loaned to buy a new bear in time for the festivities and the loan was paid back over time.
Back to the group…….
Some of the founder members still attend the meetings, held twice a month, and two can be seen in the photo on the right (Joan Shreeve and Althea Principi), alongside the Chair Christine Davidson (on the left).
Looking back in the archives the group has been very active over the years and the programmes are full of speakers, demonstrations, visits, exhibitions and sewing evenings.
All of the activities have been very carefully recorded in word and photographs, as they still are today. Our records are kept in interesting and invaluable files demonstrating a rich history of our group and, indeed, our community.
Over the years lots of group quilts have been made to raise money for local causes. This year is no exception as the group members have contributed blocks for two large quilts to raffle at our local exhibition and a third quilt was started by one member and finished by another; great collaboration for the good of the wider community. Other people have donated quilts or cushions, all produced with kind hearts, and funds raised this year will be donated to The British Heart Foundation.
I was amazed to find this news report in the archives because it is of a project called ‘Congleton in Stitches‘ and it is very similar to this years Challenge. As we are celebrating our 35th anniversary this year our Challenge to members (to be shown at the Exhibition) was to produce an image of Congleton or surrounding area (14″ by 10″). We have called this the Jade Challenge as Jade represents 35 years. Some beautiful mini quilts have been submitted showing local shops, our floral round-a-bouts, the park, the paddling pool, the Bear and Bible and local beauty spots etc. Members new to quilting through to experts have submitted mini quilts demonstrating a wide rang of techniques and skills. Hopefully I can show more after the Exhibition.
35th Anniversary Exhibition.
7th and 8th June, 10 am to 4 pm. Congleton Town Hall.
To celebrate our 35th anniversary we are holding an exhibition. Thirty seven members have submitted quilts and there are sixty quilts on view. These are traditional, modern, contemporary and three dimensional. There will be a very wide range of techniques on display and Quilt Angels are on hand to talk to people about the exhibits or the art of quilting. We have people who will be working on their own pieces and who are happy to show visitors what they are doing and a Petting Corner is available for visitors to touch and inspect sample pieces, blocks, painted and embellished work-in-progress (WIPs). You can guess that we have fabric for sale and a sales table of hand made items alongside a Tombola. We have refreshments available both days and entry is free!
The Exhibition has been kindly supported by Congleton Town Council and the Congleton Inclosure Trust
We would love to see you there!
For further information about the Beartown Patchwork & Quilters please visit us at: http//www.beartownpandq.btck.co.uk