Monday, 3 November 2008

Mrs. Oxtoby's Quilts

Earlier this year, I was fortunate to be able to acquire four quilts from a local (Wigton) lady, all showing clear evidence of their local provenance in the form of the All-over Wave quilting which is endemic to the NorthWest coast of England and to the geographically contiguous area of Northern Ireland. Two of them are shown on the bed, the other two being a well-washed and worn single Irish Chain quilt in blue and white, and a pink-and-white checkerboard quilt. The Turkey red frame quilt, the top quilt on the bed, is particularly striking, being in excellent condition and completely unfaded.

Mrs. Oxtoby's mother died last year and in clearing out the house prior to sale, the Oxtoby's came across a trunk in the attic containing the four quilts. (Yes, it can still happen!) Members of the family then remembered that the quilts had been given to Mr. Oxtoby's parents on their marriage. The donors were, it was claimed, two sisters and the assumption was that they were also the makers of the quilts. They were the daughters of a prominent member of Wigton society, a book-seller named Thomas McMechan, who lived with his family over his shop.

That is as far as my information goes so far but it's a good start to providing a credible provenance for the quilts. Now that I've completed, and delivered, my paper for the British Quilt Study Group I intend to spend some time delving into the provenance of these quilts.

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