Ebay buy reveals links to school’s past
08:00 16 January 2013
125-year-old cross-stitch ends up on internet auction site.
A 125-year-old cross-stitch sampler put up for sale on an internet auction site has helped a village primary school forge a fascinating link to its own past.
The colourful cross-stitch, embroidered by 11-year-old Mary Elizabeth Gay in 1889, turned up on eBay and was successfully bought by Burrington Primary School after a ‘nerve wracking’ on-line bidding war, which closed on £91.
The work features upper and lower-case letters of the alphabet and the numbers one-to-10, as well as Mary’s name, the name of the school and the date.
Samplers were often embroidered by young girls to learn how to stitch and to record alphabet and other patterns to be used in household sewing.
They often contained motifs and initials to identify their owner and to enable samples of her stitching to be referred back to over the years.
Research at the North Devon Record Office confirmed that Mary was the daughter of flour miller William Gay and his wife Elizabeth, who lived at Marsh Mills. The youngster would have walked around a mile-and-a-half to school in Burrington.
According to records, Mary had 10 brothers and sisters and married Burrington man Joseph Heaman in 1900, leaving Marsh Mills to farm with him at Henbeer, Bickleigh near Tiverton.
By the 1911 census they had seven children and she died on June, 25 1952 aged 74.
It is understood that the sampler was sold on eBay by a Kingskerswell woman, who had bought it from a dealer in Exeter 10 years previously.
The school put £50 from its own history budget towards the purchase and was loaned the rest by a pupil’s grandmother Margaret Bolt, who was keen for the school to acquire the artefact for future generations to enjoy.
It will be owned jointly by the community and the school, but kept at the school, which is asking for donations of at least £1 to help fund the purchase.
School administrator Jo Everitt said the sampler was a fantastic historical artefact for the school, which dates back to 1856.
She said: “We are hoping to hang it on the wall in class two, which is where Mary would have done the stitching.
“It is a lovely example of history brought to life, and a fascinating artefact for our children to experience.”
Anyone wanting to support the purchase for the school can contact Jo at the school or visit the Made in Burrington Festival taking place on June 14 and 15.