National Needlework Archive

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The Old Chapel Textile Centre in Newbury, home of the National Needlework Archive, offer courses, workshops and exhibitions in sewing, haberdashery,  needlecraft, textiles, embroidery, cross stitch, quilting and textile art. Our shop carries an extensive range of all needlework and sewing products including fabric, threads, wool, zips and patterns. We have an archive of historic textiles and patterns and are home to The Country Wife mural.

WI Textiles

The Textile Recording Project for the NFWI

 The NNA helps organisations record their textile holdings. In 2004 we began to record all the textiles belonging to WIs throughout England, Wales and the Islands. These textiles had never been recorded before and it soon became apparent how many of the banners, table covers, costumes and other WI related items had been lost over the years. As well as recording the textiles currently owned by WIs, the NNA are actively trying to find ‘lost’ WI items.

We have currently recorded over 9000 artefacts from approximately two thirds of the 6800 WIs in 70 Federations. The recording project is on-going and the NNA will continue to build and maintain the textile records of the NFWI. The project received no external funding and all the work at the NNA and in local WIs and Federations has been done entirely by volunteers.

In addition to the documentary records, the NNA keeps a collection of WI textiles from closed WIs, and items no longer required by current WIs and Federations. The intention is to keep WI textiles together in a dedicated collection which will reflect the history, both of the WI movement and of textile development. We are always glad to receive or hear about WI textiles, or any documents relating to them. WIs who deposit items with the NNA are able to borrow them back for special occasions, as can suspended WIs if they reform (contact the NNA for further details).

A book is available featuring all of the items from the exhibition ‘Textile Treasures of the WI’ together with historical background and old photographs.

The book is available at the Old Chapel Textile Centre in Newbury, or by post. The cost is £4.99 plus £3.50 p&p.

Cheques for £8.49, made out to the National Needlework Archive, should be sent to the OCTC. Full address is at the bottom of this page or phone 07534 371317 during lockdown to pay by card

1947 Rally

Petersfield group

Boughton Malherbe banner

Clayton le Woods doll

Brasted Banner

We are very sad that the WI College at Denman has now closed.

It is the end of a very illustrious learning centre with a proud history. Just a reminder - WI textiles from closed branches, or unwanted WI textiles can be offered to Federations, or can be offered to join the NNA’s extensive WI collection at Newbury.  

The NNA keeps records of textiles belonging to individual WI’s and Federations so please keep these records up to date.

We feel it is very important that the textiles of the WI nationwide are not lost to view, so if your WI houses any textiles in any other place (such as a record office or local church), please do let us know where they are so they can retain their important place in the WI historical record.

We also always welcome information about new WI textiles.