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Friday, 29 August 2014

Dale Abbey Alphabet Tile


My Dale Abbey Alphabet Tile pattern was inspired by an antique journal from my granddad's collection. He was very interested in local history and old books so when he found this 1908 edition of the Derbyshire Archaeological and Natural History Society's periodical, I'm sure he would have been very pleased indeed! I think he may have bought  it because it contains the obituary of Rev. Charles Kerry, a well-known local historian and a native of Smalley.
The chapter that inspired this pattern is about hornbooks. A hornbook is an old-fashioned name given to a form of tablet that has the alphabet written on it. Originally, it referred to items made of deer horn but later became a more general term. Much like cross stitched samplers, they were designed to help a child learn to read. Some of them were made from gingerbread and when a child could name a letter, they could eat that piece of the biscuit. That sounds like a very good incentive to me!
The design is based on a tile found at Dale Abbey, near Derby. Whoever made it forgot to reverse the letters so they read right to left. This may explain why it was discarded! I have put the letters back into the right order. You will see there is no letter 'J'. The letter 'I' was used for both in the old English alphabet. The letters are of a Lombardic style and can be used separately to add initials to various items or you could spell out words and phrases. I used shade 919 (DMC) on vintage Cashel linen shade 3009 but you could give it a completely different look if you wish.
Happy stitching!

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