Catalogue of Designs




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The Ickleford Industries of Applied Arts

Olney & Newbury

The Cambridge Tapestry Company Ltd

The Witter Family


The Cambridge Tapestry Company Ltd- needlework tapestry examples

From the 1920s The Cambridge Tapestry Company had showrooms to display their works both in Thompson's Lane in Cambridge and in London. During the 1920s their London showroom was at 62 Baker Street W1 and then in the early 1930s they moved their London showroom to 7 Hill's Place, near Oxford Circus. The Thompson's Lane showroom was a large space and was used to display many of the different types of work on offer.

thompsons lane showroom 2

Tapestry Chair
enlarged version of chair back
back seat cover
chair back detail
seat cushion
englarged image of seat cushion
back cover
seat design

The pictures from the Thompson's Lane showroom reflect just how intricate were the upholstery designs produced by the Cambridge Tapestry Company. Settees, chairs, firescreens and stools were all designed and hand made in house by the workforce at Thompson's Lane. Their designs ranged from slightly simpler floral designs shown below to hugely intricate hunting and period scenes as depicted on the chairs above and on the settee and firescreen shown in the photograph to the right. In addition to these on the back wall of the showroom there is a huge tapestry wall hanging also produced by the Cambridge Tapestry Company.
Sample tapestry chair cover
Tapestry stool
Back design enlarged
Back design enlarged
Tapestry Stool Cover
Needlework stool cover enlarged

Such intricate hand made designs inevitably take a long time to produce. An exhibition of the Cambridge Tapestry Company's tapestry work in Birmingham in 1934 was reported in the Birmingham Mail - November 1934.In this article Miss E L Shaw, an early employee of the company explained that the production of tapestry covers for a settee like that shown in the article will occupy several workers for approximately 3 months. In a second article Miss Shaw explains the difference between tapestry wall hangings and the needlework tapestry used to create upholstery and how in some examples as many as nine hundred stitches to the square inch are required to produce the detail present in the Cambridge Tapestry Company work.
Long Tapesty Stool
Long stool embroidered seat cover
This 6 legged walnut stool to be topped by an embroidered cushion (shown left) was ordered by Mrs Craig of Duddon Villa, in Millom, Cumberland in 1930. The bill of sale produced by The Cambridge Tapestry Company Ltd shows the cost for materials required, tracing the design and 'starting the work' as: £9 7s 8d. Using a value convertor from the British Archive website, in 2005 this would have been equivalent to £345.76, a price which reflects the manpower and time required to produce just a simple example of the work of the Cambridge Tapestry Company.

dining chairs with tapestry cushions

In 1933 another order was placed by Mrs Craig of Duddon Villa, Millom, Cumberland. This time it was for the design and production of 2 embroidered chair seat covers (as shown).

The breakdown of costs for these included:

Designing the chairs, tracing and painting on canvas - £3 10s
Cost of wools - 12s 10d
Cost of silks - 3s 4d
1 packet needles - 2d

click here to see the details of this order

This order came to £4 6s 4d in total, equivalent to £144.26 in 2005
seat cushion 1
Seat cushions enlarged

tapestry seat cushion 2
Seat cushions enlarged

top of small footstool

Small embroidered stool cover
It is not known when this foot stool was designed but it is very similar to the long stool and the chairs shown above.

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Copyright: M J S Price 2012 - 2015