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Article by Susan Waters, member of The Material Girls sewing group.
'Chichele Time Line'
Started 2013 – completed 2022 by the 'Material Girls'

Archbishop Henry Chichele timeline in fabric and thread: Bede House, Higham Ferrers

The title panel
The title panel

Henry Chichele’s coat of arms
Details from the first panel showing Henry Chichele’s coat of arms

The final panel of a timeline dedicated to Henry Chichele was unveiled in the Bede House on February 24th 2022. Chichele was born in Higham Ferrers and served as Archbishop of Canterbury between 1414 to 1443.

The tapestry was created by eight women from The Material Girls sewing group, led by retired art teacher Fay Caddick. The five panels took nine years to make, including a two-year pause in the Covid-19 pandemic. The project was originally intended for Higham Ferrers library, where the group met before the Library was closed in 2019.

The panels have been framed with sponsorship from The Friends of St Mary's and a donation from profits of the book Higham Ferrers 1251-1914 by Brenda Lofthouse, Gwen Tobin and Rachel Smythe.

The timeline has found a fitting home in the Bede House, a building founded by Henry Chichele in 1422. It was a social provision and place of prayer for 12 men over the age of 50 and one women to support them. Nearby Chichele College was founded in the same year for a community of priests, with eight secular canons and chaplains and six choristers. Although Chichele rose to great power, he never forgot the place of his birth and leaves the Town his legacy in stone. This year marks the 600th anniversary of these two historic buildings.

The Bede House is open on Market Day, held on the last Saturday morning of the month and usually there is a coffee morning hosted by the Friends of St Mary's on Thursdays 10 - 12 noon.

riding to Chichele’s house
William de Wykeham, riding to Chichele's house

Panel 2 features William de Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester and Lord Chancellor, riding to Chichele’s house at 67 High Street. Henry was educated at Winchester before passing on to New College, Oxford. The design opens into a domestic interior and then the St. Mary’s Church Chichele window with an icon of Mary.

travels in Europe
Chichele's travels in Europe

Panel 3 shows a representation of Chichele’s travels in Europe as an eminent lawyer and diplomatic envoy for Henry IV. To the left, the white cliffs of Dover and two ships. The seascape turns into Venetian waters replete with gondolas and the Rialto Bridge.

associated with Chichele
Places associated with Chichele and the Bedesmen

Panel 4 Top row: Winchester College, Canterbury Cathedral, Chichele College, Bede House

Bottom row: New College, Oxford; St David's Cathedral; Chantry Chapel, Higham Ferrers; portrait of Archbishop Chichele with heraldic crests; All Souls College, Oxford; detail of the door at All Souls College; the Bedeswoman and Bedesmen.

Chichele's tomb in Canterbury Cathedral

Panel 5 depicts Chichele's tomb in Canterbury Cathedral. He was the Archbishop of Canterbury for 29 years, one of the longest serving. We can still enjoy his legacy in some of the historic buildings in Higham Ferrers.

Article by Susan Waters, member of The Material Girls sewing group.

Note: Since the library closed the Mapestry has been removed
and is now safely displayed at Henry Chichele School, School Lane.

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