St Fagans National History Museum – handling quilts collection


On Thursday I gave myself the great treat of a coach trip to St Fagans Museum of National History, just outside Cardiif in South Wales.  It was Bristol Quilters’ Annual Summer Outing, and we went to see the handling collection of vintage Welsh quilts.  What a good idea a handling collection is.  There is something about quilts which just makes you want to touch them.  They are lovely to look at, but imagine having this on a table in front of you and not being able to touch:



The curator, Elen Philipps, assured us that the donors had all agreed that the quilts could be touched when they gave  them so there was no guilt attached to running our fingers over them, although we did all wash our hands on entry.

I am not a great connoisseur of antique quilts.  I love them, but I am not particularly knowledgeable about them.  So this is just a few photographs of the beautiful things we were able to see and touch:








Elen Philipps was a very good guide to the quilts and had chosen an interesting selection to present from very high quality whole cloths to utilitarian ones which interesting stories.  She was very good at balancing setting the objects in their historical context with a clear love of the textiles themselves.  She also put us onto a fantastic exhibition of red and white quilts, Infinite Variety which were shown at the Museum of Folk Art in New York.  There is a great You Tube video which shows how innovative the mounting of the quilts was.  I would have loved to have seen it.

St Fagans also has some quilts on display in its permanent gallery, and a rather eclectic selection of fashion associated with Wales.  It also has lovely gardens, and is mainly known for its buildings which have been saved from decay and demolition and rebuilt brick by brick on the site.  It was also lovely to have a day out in the company of like-minded people.

4 thoughts on “St Fagans National History Museum – handling quilts collection

  1. they look wonderful…and how much better to be able to TOUCH them… quilts should be touched as it is a way of joining will all those who have touched them before x I can understand that some are ribbon winners etc… but how sad that they be folded away and never shared or “loved” …thanks for sharing with us x

    1. Absolutely. I couldn’t stop stroking them. I suspect that getting a bit worn is the price quilts pay for being quilts. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  2. I saw a quilt in an upstairs bedroom of one of the older restored houses at St. Fagan’s. Perhaps the red house. The room was so dark it was barely visible but it was red and pink and cream .There may have been some blue or black in it. I’d love to see a decent photo of it
    I wish I’d known there was another collection of quilts somewhere else at the museum.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s