Friday, 2 October 2009

York Minster - All Saint's Chapel dossal

A stunning example of goldwork in (fairly) contemporary ecclesiastical embroidery can be seen in All Saint's Chapel in York Minster.

This magnificent dossal (or hanging behind an altar) was made in 1972 by the Minster Broderers, from a design by Joan Freeman. On red silk, the design is worked in padded gold kid and couched gold thread and cords, with some beading. I haven't described working with kid or other fine leather yet, though as with couching, it's a simple technique that can be used to great effect, as here.

I love this piece - the design is deceptively simple but perfectly composed, and the colour scheme - just red and gold - shows it off without any distractions. Although I keep saying that goldwork techniques are simple (and they are!), so much hinges on their execution, which here is flawless. Although the Great Processional Banner is an astonishing piece of work, I much prefer this one. Beautiful.


  1. I took myself on a self-guided tour of England a while back (yikes, 10 years!) and one of the highlights was York Minster. I spent hours there looking at the windows, carvings, all of the embroideries, underneath the Minster, and, of course, that dossal. I purchased a package of wrapping paper in the gift shop with the design so I'd have it (rather like a poster).

  2. I didn't see that! I'll have to have a better look round the gift shop next time I'm there.