Volunteers’ Medieval masterpiece unveiled at Sherwood Forest

A stunning piece of needlework created by a team of volunteers at Sherwood Forest has been unveiled.

The hand-sewn red and blue Medieval-inspired coverlet, measuring 1.5 metres by almost 2.5 metres, depicts symbols which reflect the heritage of Robin Hood’s Forest, including its characteristic oak trees, and the outlaw’s quiver and arrows.

Crowns, lions and eagles represent Sherwood’s association with the royalty in some of its 12 18-inch by 18-inch squares, while three hares are symbolic of the forest’s place as a cherished hunting ground for the kings of England for several centuries after the Norman Conquest.

The project was started in 2019 and was initially designed by former Sherwood employee Hannah Marples. 

Around a dozen volunteers have contributed to the piece since its inception, drawing and cutting out the symbols, and sewing them to the coverlet.

In the last two years, six Sherwood volunteers – Valerie Millns, Heather College, Linda George, Vivienne Woods, Daphne Boot and Veronica Riley – have met once a week at the RSPB’s Visitor Centre in Edwinstowe, to apply hundreds of stitches to the shapes which decorate the finished piece.

A group of four people looking ahead at the camera. They are standing on stairs in front of a large coverlet that they have made which is blue and red and has Medieval symbols sewn on to it include crowns, lions, arrows and quiver and three hares on it.
Veronica, Daphne, Valerie and Heather with the coverlet they have made at Sherwood Forest.

Valerie, Heather, Veronica and Daphne were at the Visitor Centre for the formal unveiling. The coverlet was attached to a wooden pole capped with oak finials made by wood turner Colin Watson and cascaded from the Visitor’s Centre mezzanine first floor.

Tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world can now admire the coverlet from the Visitor Centre’s café.

Valerie said: “The work began with all the cutting out and the arrangement of the pieces. Then Covid hit so there was a break of two years, but we reassembled and started to work on it again.

“To us, the coverlet means a lot of time spent with each other doing something we enjoy, which is not only crafting but making something really nice and memorable. It’s been a very enjoyable experience.”

Jess Dumoulin, Visitor Experience Manager at RSPB Sherwood Forest, said: “I am overjoyed to be able to see this amazing project finished and displayed in pride of place for all our visitors to appreciate. Our volunteers are already planning their next crafting project so watch this space if you would like to get involved.”

Find out more about volunteering at Sherwood Forest and Budby South Forest.