The Needlepoint Guild

Needlepoint began appearing in Calvary Parish as early as the 1960s and continued sporadically for a little over three decades. The original communion rail kneelers and four small, additional kneelers used within the chancel were put in place in the church during the late 1960s. During the 1970s in All Saints’ Chapel, two chair bottoms—one on each side of the altar—were covered in needlepoint. Another, near the pulpit, was covered in 2000. Wedding kneelers used in both church and chapel appeared during the mid-1970s. Silencers for the alms basins were finished during the late 1990s. Communion rail kneelers for All Saints’ Chapel were begun in 2002, and pew markers for the church appeared in 2004.

In 2004, the Rev. William E. Smyth established Calvary’s Needlepoint Guild. He appointed co-chairs who organized Guild committees responsible for design, policy, and standards. Projects for the church were begun very soon thereafter, and chancel cushions and kneelers as well as narthex and south porch pew cushions were completed and dedicated during 2006, 2007, and 2008. Projects continue.

In the Church

The Needlepoint Guild of Calvary Parish determined initially that, for cohesiveness or a reflection of similarity, all needlepoint pieces would feature common colors and points of the overall design. Further, the Guild determined that all designs would be taken from the architecture of the buildings and surrounding landscape. For example—with the exception of church communion rail and wedding kneelers—a red background is used exclusively for cushions and kneelers. Also, use is made of the Trinity design which is found in many forms or shapes on many pieces of furniture, fixtures, and windows both stained and stenciled. The Trinity design settled upon was computer-generated. The results perhaps resemble most closely the finials of the ends of pews within the nave, choir, and loft. That Trinity design, then, is used on the sides and ends or boxing of each cushion and kneeler. Finally, the ivy design on each piece is taken from the ivy found throughout Calvary Churchyard. When the third Rector of Calvary, the Rev. Joseph Blount Cheshire, began planting the Churchyard, he used trees and shrubs both native and foreign. The ivy came from Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire, England, the home of Sir Robert Dudley, a suitor to Queen Elizabeth I. 

In All Saints’ Chapel and Cheshire Memorial Parish house

With the exception of pew kneelers, the needlepoint within All Saint’s Chapel was worked and put in place as the need or desire for individual pieces arose. There was no formalized approach. The eight communion rail kneelers, however, were researched, designed, and worked as a unit and that effort perhaps triggered the Needlepoint Guild’s formation. The pew kneelers are a project of the Guild. Pieces found within the Parish House and Clark Hall were retired from their original locations and now rest on pews within these areas.