Chief Executive’s Blog: The Grove Book

4th March, 2022

The Grove Book is constantly open on one page or another in our Studio because there is always a great example for our exhibitions within its pages but next week it is being taken out of the Studio so our Future Tutors can study it. It’s a great embodiment of our values of Tradition, Quality and Innovation, it will inspire our students to stitch today after seeing some of the oldest pieces in the RSN collection.

The Grove Book is so called because it was compiled by Georgina Grove. Married to Brigadier General Grove, a nineteenth century soldier, Georgina travelled with him all over Europe and India and accumulated a rare collection of embroidery and textiles found in the many countries she visited. What a good job she packed her scissors!

It’s an eclectic mix of pieces across different styles, techniques and countries and is one of the RSN’s greatest treasures. Among the collection are nearly 20 samplers all of which were originally stitched into the book although sadly over the intervening 100-plus years many have become detached.

Once back home, she decided to put all the pieces into a book. She had gathered many samples so it is a not insubstantial book measuring 30 cm x 45 cm x 14cm deep (12” x 18 “ x 5.5”). The cover of the book is as impressive as the contents. Georgina embroidered this herself in a technique known as Casalguidi, named after an Italian town. It consists of heavy raised stem stitch worked in curves, lines, squiggles or whatever the design dictated and is usually a Whitework embroidery technique.

The size of the volume means it is not easily missed. This is exactly what happened this week as one of the RSN trustees who I had been meeting with in my office literally came to a stop as she was leaving when she saw the book lying on the table.

The book was donated to the RSN by Brigadier Grove on the death of Georgina in 1924.

Georgina also kept a diary, now in the Bodleian Library.

Dr Susan Kay-Williams
Chief Executive, RSN