Volunteers needed for £10,000, 10-metre tapestry depicting 1,000-year history of Rochford

MORE than 40 people are working on a 10-metre tapestry, which will commemorate 1,000 years of history in Rochford – and organisers are calling for even more volunteers to join in.

The finished artwork will be displayed as part of next year’s Discover 2020 Festival.

The project, funded by a £10,000 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, has been titled, ‘Rochford District Tapestry: Knitting Our Heritage Together’.

It has been organised by Rochford Town Council, with volunteers from across 14 parishes working to stitch together scenes which have been designed by local historians and artists.

Geoff Durham, chair of the Rochford Town Team, said: “As this is a district-wide community project, we don’t want it to be Rochford-Hockley-Rayeligh-centric.

“We have been very pleased to see people involved from most of the district’s parishes, but would like to see more people join in – especially from Foulness, Paglesham, Rawreth, Hullbridge and Stambridge.”

The final product will include ten panels, each one metre long, depicting different eras and themes, including the Saxons, the Danes, the Normans, historic churches and religious changes.

A spokesman said: “There are also references to the district’s history of boat-building, fishing, oyster catching, ale houses, windmills, watermills and more.”

The latest panel features depictions of markets and fairs from Rayleigh, Rochford, Great Wakering and Shopland.

It will show ‘how towns grew around marketplaces, with initial stalls developing into static shacks’.

Dolls are also being knitted as part of a planned educational scheme for children.

Youngsters will explore the tapestry in a game which will see them try to match the correct dolls to the correct scenes in the tapestry.

Angela Hutchings, Rochford District Council’s strategic director, said: “This is a project which has truly galvanised the Rochford community and I am incredibly impressed by the standard of work which has been produced at this early stage.

“The finished project will be exhibited as part of next year’s event, ‘Discover 2020: 200 Years of HMS Beagle’ – which will celebrate our district’s links with the prestigious ship which carriage Charles Darwin on his travels.

“The tapestry will then be available for local groups to display, enabling everyone to experience our rich and colourful heritage.”

*A workshop on the tapestry will be held at the Ashingdon Elim Church, Clifton Road, Ashingdon, on Saturday, December 14.

Anybody interested in taking part, or just finding out more about the project, is invited to attend. The event will run from 10am to 1pm.

Anybody interested in getting involved, but who cannot attend the Ashingdon event, is invited to call Rochford District Council on 01702 318111 or email [email protected]

Charles Thomson

Chief ReporterEmail: [email protected]