years of painstaking restoration has resulted in a fragile altar cloth
taking pride of place at St Mary's Church, Cricklade.
The cloth was designed and embroidered by Cicely Butt Miller in the
early years of the last century.
It was originally intended to be one of four wall hangings but, as the
project stalled, it was made into an altar decoration and given to St
The 'frontal' is important to both St Mary's and Cricklade, as the
floral work features the fritillary for which Cricklade is nationally
One of needlewomen, Bernadette
said "By 1999 the silk backing was threadbare. Careful restoration
was needed and expert advice was given by Mrs Isabel Elliott, of
Quenington, who is the former mistress of embroidery at Gloucester
"The old, threadbare, patched and disintegrating silk had to be cut
away and the embroidery remounted on a more enduring fabric."
"The whole thing is so beautiful and the colours so vibrant that as
an extra measure it has been couched in gold thread. Now, once
again, it graces the altar in this ancient church."
The restoration was done in a room at Brook House, Cricklade, by
permission of resident Louise Aitken.
Coincidentally, Brook House was formerly owned by Thomas Butt Miller,
the husband of Cicely.
For the restoration, the new backing material had to be attached to a
6ft by 3ft frame and took four restorers 160 hours to complete.
The needlewomen, as well as Miss Yarnold, were Mary Pugh, Pat Charlton
and Helen Lee.
Miss Yarnold's niece Charlotte converted the embroidery back into a
Miss Yarnold added: "It was very
to complete - it is a lovely piece of work. It was so nice to be able to
do this in an age when so much comes off a production line - I don't
think anything beats hand-made.
"None of us are really embroiderers, it was basically a matter of
cutting away the work and delicately stitching it to a new
you would like to see the restored altar cloth you can visit St Mary's
Church, Cricklade, for the church flower festival over this weekend.