Britain’s earliest dated patchwork goes on tour!

1718 Patchwork silk coverlet blog

The UK’s earliest known dated patchwork, the 1718 Silk Coverlet, will be on display across the UK this year to celebrate its 300th birthday. The coverlet will be  guest-of-honour at this summer’s The Festival of Quilts this August, and if you can’t wait until then it’s also set to be on display at the American Museum in Britain this Spring too!

The 1718 Silk Coverlet is the most treasured piece of patchwork in The Quilters’ Guild collection.  Since joining the Guild’s collection in 2000, the historically significant piece has been extensively researched by the British Quilt Study Group, has undergone x-ray analysis to examine its construction, has undergone conservation to help ensure its stability and survival, and has been authentically replicated by members of The Quilters’ Guild.

Constructed in mosaic style, the Coverlet features the initials ‘E.H’ and the date ‘1718’ in a central block, surrounded by blocks containing geometric designs and nature motifs.  Prior to the Guild’s purchase at auction in 2000, the Coverlet was in the possession of the Brown family of Aldbourne, Wiltshire.  No details about the maker, E.H, have ever been discovered.

  • You can catch the coverlet at the American Museum (in Bath) from 10th April to 29th July
  • Or book a summer day out to Festival of Quilts to see it at the NEC in Birmingham from 9-12th August
  • Find out more about the coverlet in our Back Story feature in issue 34

Due to its age and fragility, the iconic piece will present a number of display challenges for the curators of The Festival’s Quilt Galleries.  The Coverlet will be exhibited in a specially built enclosed gallery – something visitors will not have experienced at the Festival before.  The area will have a controlled entrance and exit to ensure optimum viewing for all visitors.

Replica quilt challenge!

Visitors will also be able to enjoy a unique opportunity to view quilts inspired by the Coverlet in a one-off competition category for 1718 replica quilts.  The category comes with a once in a lifetime prize – a private audience with the 1718 Coverlet for the winner and a friend at The Quilters’ Guild headquarters in York.


Want to submit a quilt to this, or any of this year’s Festival of Quilts quilt competitions? Find out how here

Silk Coverlet detail 1718-008