Since we gathered in the last squares in June we have been holding a weekly 'Big Sew' session led by textile designer Nancy Shafee here at West Horsley Place. It has been wonderful that the sewing phase of the project had coincided with the lifting of coronavirus restrictions, allowing us to gather in person. We have been overwhelmed by the amazing response from our local community to this project. In total our GladRags patchwork will contain 88 (!) squares- a huge thank you to everyone who created a square; each one is a story of resilience and hope. 

The group of volunteers who have come together to enable the Big Sew are wonderful! They have been meeting weekly for two months and working with huge care and skill to sew 88 squares together and create the finished GladRags Patchwork. Some are very experienced stitchers with their own sewing machines, some have never been involved with a textiles project before. Our hope is that the GladRags Gang will learn some new skills as well as making new friendships. We caught up with a few of the gang to find out why they have got involved with the project and what it means to them:

" I got involved in the GladRags Project during lockdown because I am passionate about art and I wanted to contribute to this local initiative to bring people together remotely during the pandemic. Once lockdown was lifted I seized upon the opportunity to come together with people directly for The Big Sew. It has been so fulfilling to work in the beautiful setting of West Horsley Place and to share ideas with others for The Big Sew. I have loved seeing all the squares come together collectively and all the different ideas for its construction evolving by people talking to each other again. I love West Horsley Place because it is a centre for community events, everyone is friendly, it has immense history and idyllic beauty. We are very lucky to have it in our village."

Sarah Rawlins

"Planning and making my square changed my thinking from negative to positive - it was very easy to focus on the things you couldn’t do but really we were fortunate to be outside and enjoying the garden. The Big Sew has encouraged me to go out and mix with a group of people who I had never met before. It has been such fun and I have made lots of new friends. Hopefully the GladRags Gang will be able to continue. I have followed the story of West Horsley Place from when Bamber Gascoigne inherited the property. I like the vision he and his wife have and that he didn’t just sell the house. Everyone is so friendly and committed to rejuvenating the property."

Sue Ratcliff

"In 1983 I moved to East Horsley with my husband and three young children. Over the years I must have driven past West Horsley Place thousands of times, yet I knew very little about the place... it was just 'that grand house' on the main road. When Bamber Gascoigne inherited it from his aunt in 2014 the full story gradually unfolded... and so began my fascination with this wonderful place right on my doorstep! As a craft/textile enthusiast I was delighted to hear of the plans for arty-crafty activities at WHP and in 2020 was very happy to join the lockdown 'GladRags' project, designing and making one of 88 squares for a wall-hanging. Over the past few weeks, since being allowed to meet up in Place Farm Barn, it has been a real treat to work with like-minded people, arranging and assembling this amazing collection of squares. After months of restrictions, gathering together in these beautiful surroundings has been such a lovely return to 'normal ' life, enjoying the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. Thank you Clare and Nancy for making the GladRags project has been a great experience working on it and future generations will, I'm sure, appreciate this unique work, created during a sad and challenging period in our history."

Liz Evans

The Big Sew is ongoing, we will keep you updated of progress here. We are delighted that so many people have joined in, with up to 15 people attending each session. We would like to say a huge thank you to all of them, for being so generous with their time and so dedicated to creating what we hope will be a beautiful artwork as well as a piece of social history. 

We aim to have the GladRags Project Patchwork on display in Place Fam Barn this autumn. Watch this space for more details of how you can see it.