Hi, I’m Georgia and I’m volunteering on the Archaeology of Childhood Project! For the last two weeks I have been researching the stories behind two samplers and their young makers.

The first sampler (see image), sewed by twelve-year-old Mary Frances, led me to Melton Constable in Norfolk and the noble Astley family. The sampler depicts the grand Melton Hall amongst an array of wildlife and inscribed below is ‘Milton Lodge The Seat of Sir Astley Bart. Of Norfolk’. After a examining a lot of family trees and censuses, there does not seem to have been a Mary Frances belonging to the Astley family but there were two Mary Francises in nearby Great Snoring and East Dereham. These girls were the same age and, therefore, could have sewed this beautiful sampler!

MAA 1921.63.124
MAA 1921.63.124

The other sampler donated by a local man and embroidered with the alphabet and ‘Susannah Clement 17th June 1794’, suggests Susannah was a child. Excitingly, this sampler has connections to Cambridgeshire. On a visit to the Cambridgeshire Collection, records show there were a few Clements families in the area and baptism indexes show that four Susannah/Susanna Clements were living in Cambridge and Ely around the time of the sampler. The next step now is a trip to the Cambridgeshire archives to look at the Parish Records in more detail and to start to piece together the possible story behind this family and the sampler.

Georgia Ridge, Volunteer, MAA

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