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Q: Queen Victoria - 3 references to her quilting? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Queen Victoria - 3 references to her quilting?
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: kyraeh-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 05 Oct 2003 07:24 PDT
Expires: 04 Nov 2003 06:24 PST
Question ID: 262855
In reading "The Presonal Life of Queen Victoria'1897 - there's a
reference to Queen Victoria knitting a quilt.  The book talks about
the queen presenting a gift of "five knitted quilts, one entirely her
own work, and it bore the royal crown and the intials "V.R." in the

I'd like to learn more about Queen Victoria's needlework and quilting.
 Can you please provide three (3) different references to her work or
where she presented her work as a gift?  I wonder if any of her
needlework is still in exisitence.

Thank you -

Request for Question Clarification by leli-ga on 05 Oct 2003 14:03 PDT
Hi Kyraeh - nice to talk to you again..

I've found some material which I think would interest you about
Victoria's knitting and crocheting, but not about actual quilting.

In case you're not a needlework enthusiast, let me explain further.
The "knitted quilts" she made might also be called bedcovers,
comforters, blankets or even throws. They probably weren't pieced
together like patchwork quilts, and Queen Victoria didn't do quilting
in the sense of "stitching layers of fabric together".

Let me tell you what I can find online, so you can decide if it's
going to be suitable.

1 Information about one knitted bedcover/blanket and the museum
holding it.

2 Information about a "set" of woollen scarves and three museums
holding one each.

3 Background about her needlework in general.

4 Mention of two handkerchieves she embroidered and a possible lead
for locating one of them.

All the items were gifts from the queen.

Not sure if this quite meets your needs - just let me know what you

Thanks - Leli

Clarification of Question by kyraeh-ga on 05 Oct 2003 15:30 PDT

Hello again!  Just FYI... I've had a chance to read the Univ of
Edinburgh dissertation you located for me.  It's excellent! There was
an entire chapter on 1800s and Blacks in Scotland.

For the quilting - absolutely, I'd love to learn more about Queen
Victoria's gifts. The 1897 reference was to knitted quilts given as
she visited a "Netley Hospital" sometime in or after 1882.  There's a
drawing in the book of Princess Beatrice knitting some long piece,
probably a bedcover.

I figured the "knitted quilts" might have been a bedcover, not the
three layer quilts. Again, its good to see your note.

Subject: Re: Queen Victoria - 3 references to her quilting?
Answered By: leli-ga on 05 Oct 2003 17:14 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
I'm really glad the dissertation has been so interesting - I hope I'll
get round to reading it myself one day soon.

As for the Netley Hospital, also called the Royal Victoria, it seems
to have been a military hospital visited regularly by Queen Victoria
after she laid the foundation stone, but there's nothing online about
those quilts!

She gave a knitted "comforter" to another hospital at Wantage,
Oxfordshire. "Comforter" is a bit ambiguous since it can mean scarf,
but presumably here it was some sort of blanket which a patient could
have used, if ever it was taken out of its presentation box. The box,
comforter and the letter I quote below are all in the Vale and
Downland Museum in Wantage.

"One of the gifts which the hospital received in 1897 was a comforter
of green wool knitted by Queen Victoria herself. ..."

"Dear Mr Jotcham,
At the meeting at Frogmore for arranging the distribution of the work
of the Berks. Needlework Guild I asked Princess Beatrice if something
worked by the Queen herself could be given to the Wantage Cottage
Hospital. I have received this comforter which I am sure Wantage will
be proud to possess - will you have it given to the Matron for the use
of the patients? It should be carefully preserved and should have a
small label attached to it, stating it is the Queen's work.
Lady Wantage

This letter and the comforter in its original box are now part of the
Museum's collection of needlework."

Vale and Downland Museum – Local History Series


The best-documented gifts made by the Queen are eight scarves awarded
to soldiers who had fought in South Africa. The details vary slightly
from one account to another, but they were clearly meant to be shared
between the different nationalities, and were to go to private
soldiers recommended by their officers. They were crocheted from khaki
Berlin wool, long and narrow so they could be worn as sashes, with VRI
embroidered in red.

Some of them are now in museums.

1 in Australian War Memorial - Canberra, Australia
1 in National War Museum - Ottawa, Canada
1 in Museum of  The Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment - Guildford, England
1 in Waioru War Museum, New Zealand


A clear colour picture here:
"Queen Victoria, who reigned from 1837 to 1901, had crocheted 8
scarves in the last year of her life with the intention of presenting
each as one of the highest military awards for bravery. They were made
of khaki coloured Berlin wool with the Royal Cipher “VR1” embroidered
in silk on one of the little knots of wool above the fringed end."

Picture resulting from search with 'Frayer scarf':

A black and white picture:

"Eight scarves were hand knitted by Queen Victoria and she intended to
present them personally to enlisted soldiers from the Colonial forces
who had served in the Anglo-Boer War. Sadly the Queen died between the
completion of the scarves and the presentations.
The scarves were knitted from khaki coloured Berlin wool with a fringe
at each end. They were 6 inches wide and 6 feet long with the Queens
monograin VRI in red cotton lettering on one of the fringes. The first
four scarves were presented to men in the ranks, on the recommendation
to Lord Roberts by the senior officers from the Australia, Canada, New
Zealand and South Africa forces. The South African award went to an
American citizen, Trooper Chadwick, who was serving as a volunteer
with the SA raised unit Roberts Horse. Due to his nationality, special
permission had to be obtained from the Queen, before it was approved.
The second four scarves were presented to noncommissioned men serving
in the British Army with the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division under the
command of Major General Sir Henry Hildyard."

" The scarf when presented was to be worn from the right shoulder to
the left side, in the same manner as a Colour Sergeant's red sash. "

" from mentions in several magazines it appeared that Her Majesty
Queen Victoria had at the age of 82 personally worked four scarves for
distribution to members of her Colonial Forces then serving in South
Africa. [...]
In a letter dated 8th August,1900, from South Africa to Queen
Victoria, Lord Roberts informs Her Majesty of the names of the four
recipients and states:
    'Your Majesty will, I daresay, remember your scarves made by your
Majesty to be given to your Colonial private soldiers. There was the
greatest competition to become the fortunate possessor of these
scarves, and it took a very long time to get the required information
which would enable me to decide as to the merits of those eligible for
such a coveted reward, on account of the troops being very widely
scattered and so constantly on the move. It was finally settled that
the following men were in all respects the most deserving of the great
honour . . . "

"An unusual award, in the form of a long scarf crocheted by Queen
Victoria, was made to selected servicemen during the South African
War. It was apparently worn over the shoulder, passing under the
shoulder strap, across the chest and buckled on the right hip. The
description of the scarf is given as "..crocheted in Khaki-coloured
Berlin wool, approximately nine inches wide and five foot long,
including a four inch fringe at each end, and bears the Royal Cipher
V.R.I. (Victoria Regina Et Imperatrix)..."

"Questions have been raised as to whether Queen Victoria had crocheted
the scarves herself but it was reported that, during the presentation
of the scarf [...] the Duchess of York (later Queen Mary) had informed
one recipient that she had helped the eighty-two year old Queen when
she had dropped stitches whilst making the scarves."

"BTW in the War Museum at Waiouru, you can see a scarf that Queen
knitted - it was awarded to some hero of the Boer War IIRC.  You'd
have to
be a hero to wear it, it looked incredibly rough & scratchy."


Another example of a soldier being presented with a piece of the
Queen's own handiwork, much earlier this time:

"On 20 Sep 1854 Thomas Wetton was wounded in leg which led to his
losing his leg - during storming the Heights of Alma for which he
ultimately was awarded the DCM. Visited in hospital by Queen Victoria
- presented with her hand sewn handkerchief."

"He was visited by Queen Victoria - presented with handkerchief
embroidered by the Queen in 1855 at Army Hospital, Portsmouth, Kent."


More embroidery:

"Silk Moiré Bag embroidered in silk and silver by Queen Victoria, ca.
1840, and presented to the wife of the mayor of Brussels"

"works from the private collection of Pat Kerr, Memphis fashion
designer and collector of antique lace, textiles, costumes and royal


"Displayed in the vestry is a framed portion of an altar frontal, an
early gift from Queen Victoria, who is reputed personally to have
executed its needlework."


Background information

"For a time after the death of her husband the Prince Consort, Queen
Victoria took up spinning as a soothing occupation for a lonely young
widow, as illustrated in Victoria and Albert: A Family Life at Osborne
House, by HRH The Duchess of York. Later, during the South African War
the Queen took up a crochet hook, making several scarves the size of
the sash worn by sergeants on ceremonial occasions, writes Barbara
Mertens in “Queen Victoria’s Scarf “ in Monarchy Canada, August 1991.

Giles St Aubyn says of her in Queen Victoria: A Portrait, that most
evenings she knitted scarves and comforters for “her dear brave
soldiers as if her bread depended on it…I like to think I am doing
something for them, although it is so little.”

"She felt very keenly the loss of every soldier who died in England's
defense during her reign and along with the elder princesses and her
Majesty's ladies knitted woolen comforters, mittens, socks and other
items which were distributed to the soldiers.  In addition Albert
provided a supply of warm coats and tobacco."

"As exemplar, Victoria was often described as "sensible" rather than
humane and philanthropic, and that vein of narrow nineteenth-century
pragmatism was vividly if undeliberately dramatized by John Ruskin in
his Ethics of the Dust, a textbook for girls he published in 1866. He
heard, so he wrote, "about the simplicity and good housewifery of the
Queen at Balmoral" when, "some time ago, one of the little princesses
having in too rough play torn the frock of one of her companions (a
private gentleman's daughter), the Queen did not present the young
lady with a new frock, but made the princess darn the torn one." At
first he would not believe the story, Ruskin added, but was told that
the royal girls had seen a sewing machine on display when at the
Crystal Palace exhibition with their mother, and one of them had
confided her wish to have one, "for it would save so much trouble."
That meant, to him, "that they had real experience of what sewing
meant." That even gentlewomen, princesses included, learned sewing and
knitting, among other skills, in order to have something for idle
hands to do, never occurred to the unworldly Ruskin."

Apparently there's a photograph of Queen Victoria crocheting, but I'm
afraid I haven't found it, or even another reference to it:

"There is at least one photograph in existence of Victoria

She seems to have been crocheting at the very end of her life:

"a little piece of unfinished crochet that had been the Queen's."

And as for Queen Mary, who helped with dropped stitches when the eight
military scarves were being made, we are told that:

"Queen Mary was a famous seamstress who taught her children the art,
as recalled by her eldest son later King Edward VIII in A King’s
Story: The Memoirs of the Duke of Windsor. One of his fondest
childhood memories is learning how to crochet five-foot long woolen
comforters for her many charities, while she rested in her boudoir."


I might as well end with this description of Victoria's childhood

"Victoria would spend many quiet hours [...] dressing her large
collection of dolls as characters from history or fabricating tiny
trinket boxes from odds and ends of silk and coloured beads."

Undoubtedly the Queen was brought up to be a proficient needlewoman,
but I found little to suggest she was a truly enthusiastic knitter or
sewer. (Some of her creative energy went into painting.) While she
obviously took a continuing interest in "her" soldiers, did she really
manage to crochet those eight six-foot scarves for them at the age of

Very interesting, anyway, as are all your questions.

I hope this will be useful, but please do feel free to ask me to
pursue some point further.

Best Wishes - Leli

Search strategy: 

This search gave me a good start:

"knitted OR quilted OR sewn OR crocheted OR embroidered by Queen

Also used combinations of:
knitted knitting
crocheted crochet
sewing needlework embroidery
quilt comforter scarf blanket 
worked made presented given done
"by the queen" "queen victoria"
gift present

Here's the hospital at Netley
kyraeh-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00

Many thanks!  I can't wait to read each of the links and see any
photos.  What wonderful and varied examples.  Thanks for such a
complete answer!

Subject: Re: Queen Victoria - 3 references to her quilting?
From: leli-ga on 07 Oct 2003 03:49 PDT
Thank-you very much, kyraeh.

Glad you were pleased with the answer. I enjoyed doing the research.


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