Nave needlework to bring project to life

The Peterborough Embroiders Guild starting their tapestry of the Peterborough Cathedral  ceiling. EMN-180606-174424009
The Peterborough Embroiders Guild starting their tapestry of the Peterborough Cathedral ceiling. EMN-180606-174424009
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A decades-old project to recreate the beautiful ceiling at Peterborough Cathedral has finally begun - but there is no end in sight for the mammoth task.

A group of dedicated ladies have started making the embroidery of the Nave ceiling at the historic Cathedral for its 900th anniversary.

The Peterborough Embroiders Guild starting their tapestry of the Peterborough Cathedral  ceiling. EMN-180606-174446009

The Peterborough Embroiders Guild starting their tapestry of the Peterborough Cathedral ceiling. EMN-180606-174446009

The work was originally commissioned in the 1980s from the Royal School of Needlework who dyed the wools especially for it - but it has remained untouched for years - until now.

The needlepoint embroidery will involve hundreds of hours of work to make the millions of stitches to finish the project.

Elaine Harburn, chair of the Peterborough Embroiders Guild, said it was a special project to work on.

She said: “It was commissioned for a lady who died, and the guild did not know what to do with it.

The Peterborough Embroiders Guild starting their tapestry of the Peterborough Cathedral  ceiling. EMN-180606-174457009

The Peterborough Embroiders Guild starting their tapestry of the Peterborough Cathedral ceiling. EMN-180606-174457009

“It has stayed in a cupboard since then - but with the 900th anniversary of the cathedral it seemed like a good time to bring it out.”

The group of around half a dozen ladies - including members of the cathedral congregation - meet on Wednesdays to work on the huge four metre long piece canvas.

The Nave ceiling was erected and painted in the 13th century, and is one of the most spectacular parts of the cathedral, and has huge historical importance.

It is the only one of its type in the country, and one of only four across the rest of Europe, and has been restored and re-painted a number of times throughout it’s lifetime.

The Peterborough Embroiders Guild starting their tapestry of the Peterborough Cathedral  ceiling. EMN-180606-174508009

The Peterborough Embroiders Guild starting their tapestry of the Peterborough Cathedral ceiling. EMN-180606-174508009

The design includes dozens and dozens of intricate diamond shapes, each with images inside and patterns around the outside.

While some details of the ceiling have been painted on the canvas - such as images of people and animals - the rest of the design will have to be completed by hand, including borders and wording around the edges.

The team - including Elaine, Jennifer Cade, Ann Cunliffe, Christine Chappell, Christine Dunn and Lynne Zebedee - are now looking for people to volunteer, come along and help finish the project with them.

Elaine said: “We spent two weeks working out the pattern that came with it, and sorting all the woollen thread.

The Peterborough Embroiders Guild starting their tapestry of the Peterborough Cathedral  ceiling. EMN-180606-174242009

The Peterborough Embroiders Guild starting their tapestry of the Peterborough Cathedral ceiling. EMN-180606-174242009

“We really don’t know how long it will take to complete - we have never worked on anything quite as big as this before.

“It would be nice to have a larger space to work on it, but we feel it is only right to work on it in the cathedral itself.

“We would love to have more people coming to help - especially people with good eyesight!”

It has not been decided where the embroidery will be placed once the project has been completed.

Anyone who wishes to help should ask at the cathedral about how to get involved.

The Peterborough Embroiders Guild starting their tapestry of the Peterborough Cathedral  ceiling. EMN-180606-174253009

The Peterborough Embroiders Guild starting their tapestry of the Peterborough Cathedral ceiling. EMN-180606-174253009