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Gawthorpe Textiles Collection

Padiham Category Museums & Galleries
Gawthorpe Textiles Collection image


Gawthorpe Textiles Collection is one of the finest collections of lace, embroidery and textiles in Europe. Housed at Gawthorpe Hall in Lancashire, the collection was amassed by Miss Rachel B. Kay-Shuttleworth (1886 – 1967). She was renowned for her expert knowledge and skills in needlework, and for her dedicated work with local communities. Miss Rachel turned her ancestral home into a Craft House in order to keep alive the textile skills and techniques she feared were being lost.


Miss Rachel believed that craft can help improve the quality of life for people and as early as 1912 she wrote of her hope of founding a Craft House at Gawthorpe. Her aim was to pass on her knowledge and wisdom to as many people as she could through teaching and lecturing on the value of crafts. The pieces she collected are the unique foundation of what is a truly remarkable learning resource.

She filled the house with her world-class collection of textiles, and amassed a large Library to enrich the study of craft skills. She was loved and admired by generations of local women whom she welcomed into her Craft House with energy, warmth and generosity. Many donated generously to her growing textile collection, often with pieces of work they had made themselves.

The Gawthorpe Textiles Collection is one of the most interesting specialist textile collections in the UK and known, in parts, to textile specialists worldwide. Although it was formed in a slightly indiscriminate way by contemporary standards, having grown out of the all-consuming hobby of the it’s founder, it has quality and depth in work that was contemporary with Miss Rachel herself and a surprising international dimension that sets it apart from many local authority museum collections of fashion and textiles.

As well as the usual suspects of British lace, embroidery, costume and costume accessories, it contains textiles and costume from Eastern Europe and from the Near, Middle and Far East. Miss Rachel’s interest, and acquaintances in the Arts and Crafts Movement has resulted in, rare examples of textiles from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Of national significance are the quilt collection and the British embroideries from the 1880s onwards that represent most of the styles and groups associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement.

Gawthorpe Textiles Collection is a registered charity. Today, the staff and volunteers continue to work towards achieving Miss Rachel’s vision for the collection by providing learning opportunities, delivering events, and displays at Gawthorpe Hall so that more people can engage with and be inspired by the collection.

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