Parishioners & Diocese

“Working charts were prepared on graph paper, mounted on cardboard from cornflake boxes! …  Over the years more than one hundred people have been involved in the project – fund-raising, colouring charted designs, covering the rubber interiors, making the hanging straps, stretching and mounting the finished canvasses and sewing on the linen backs. … After 15 years the project was completed with 409 in use in the Church.”   C.M.L.
“After 2 kneelers had been made from purchased kits it was decided that as there was a new carpet, the new kneelers might be designed to match or tone with this. … As long as the background colour was uniform and the border was the same, the design in the centre could be the stitcher’s own.”  M.H.
“The original design of each hassock was worked out by its embroiderer.  Almost one hundred people of many denominations have been involved.”  E.C.
“One day I said to the Vicar: “This is a very beautiful church but your kneelers are awful.”  To which he was quick to reply: “Why don’t you start a hassocks factory?  We need about a hundred.”… I worked and made up one as quickly as possible- an easy all-over pattern with Fleurs de Lys – and this we displayed with a notice saying WE NEED ANOTHER 99 OF THESE, PLEASE HELP.  Offers came in from people as old as 80 and as young as 14.  It took us three years to make a hundred kneelers.  Of course we know they are very amateurish and countrified, but after all this is a rural parish, and we like them.”  M.P.
“We chose just 10 colours one of which was to be used for the background to all the kneelers.  The others people blended together using their own imagination.  We used just one stitch – tent stitch – which is very simple and wouldn’t frighten anyone off.”  M.S.
“We thought we would begin a kneeler scheme but could not find any kits to suit us.  So we devised our own, incorporating a Celtic cross taken from the War Memorial outside the church, the cross of Christ and the Line of Life around the font.  The colours are gold, 2 shades of red and 2 of grey for the granite of the building and  for the slate headstones with which the floor is laid.”  R.P.
“All ages of both men and women enjoy canvas work and it is wonderfully therapeutic.”  M.B.
“We asked all parishioners – men as well as women – to make at least one kneeler using tent stitch, and devising their own design on a theme related to their occupation or hobby.  The enthusiasm was terrific and within a month people were visiting each other, where they never went before, asking for odd lengths of wool in colours of which they were short.  The organist put organ pipes on his, a chorister worked a stave of music, a farmer a saddleback pig, an RAF officer his service badge, a gardener his vegetables and tools.” H.R.B.
(Several of these comments were taken from the excellent A Picture Book for Kneeler Makers compiled by Joan Edwards.  See BOOKS.)
All dioceses, except, oddly Canterbury (see below), require a faculty for the large-scale replacement of kneelers.  Some may want to make suggestions to ensure that your designs will be in keeping with the atmosphere of your church.  If you are only introducing a few kneelers at a time over a period of years, you are most unlikely to need a faculty.  Check with the Archdeacon or Diocesan Advisory Committee before you start: expect support rather than bureaucratic regulation.
In the diocese of Canterbury, the provision of kneelers is a matter to be dealt with by the PCC under their own authority and requiring no consulation with the Diocesan Advisory Committee.
In the diocese of York, a faculty is always required for pew runners, altar rail kneelers and carpets, but only for kneelers if a substantial number are being replaced.  Individual kneelers introduced gradually over a long period of time do not require a faculty.  The Diocesan Advisory Committee would always prefer the locally made and distinctive, and discourages catalogue or standardised items generally.