Rachel Abbott in 17thC costume 1999

Rachel Margaret Abbott, 1920 – 2019

Died peacefully 2nd November 2019, aged 99 years

Rachel moved to Kendal from Kent with her husband Ian in the early 1990s to help with the Quaker Tapestry. In the early years of the Quaker Tapestry at Kendal, both Rachel and Ian were very much part of the local volunteer team who seemed to spend most of every week here at Kendal Meeting House. Rachel in her role of coordinating the volunteers and overseeing the embroidery of several panels. Ian in his role of welcoming visitors and occasionally using his drawing skills to help illustrate visitor signs or create amusing cartoons to lighten the volunteer handbook

In Kent, Rachel had been the lead embroiderer for the Quaker Tapestry panel ‘The Penn and Meade trial’.  She enabled many other people in Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells Quaker Meetings to take part in the embroidery. I know that Rachel found the wooden paneling shown in the court house very challenging to embroider

When the Quaker Tapestry Museum opened in Kendal in April 1994 there were still several Quaker Tapestry panels under construction. Once again, Rachel was asked by Anne Wynn-Wilson to oversee the completion of two of these panels, ‘The Slave Trade’ and ‘Manchester Conference’

In 1995 Rachel approached me to contribute some embroidery to ‘The Slave Trade’ panel, but at the time I was busy with all the administrative duties of running the Museum. However she insisted that I should do some of the embroidery so I asked if she could save me the two figures at the front of the panel. The background figures needed to be embroidered first, so I thought this a good rouse to give me a breathing space to find the time to do this. Rachel never let go of her ambition for me, and sure enough before the end of that year she said it was time… I took the panel to my parent’s home in Yorkshire that Christmas and by the New Year my two figures and the full panel was complete. I’m very pleased that she persisted

Ann Castle and Rachel Abbott 1999

Ann Castle and Rachel Abbott 1999

This photograph shows Rachel, on the right, sitting in the hallway of Kendal Meeting House next to Ann Castle who is visiting during an AGM weekend of events in 1999. Ann was one of the four early Quaker Tapestry teachers of the embroidery in the 1980s. As you can see, Ann took very little persuasion to take up the needle again and contribute to this copy of the Oxford panel that Rachel was overseeing. Once completed, we gave this panel to the Quaker centre ‘Charney Manor’ in Oxfordshire as a thank you for their help in caring for some of the Tapestry panels before they were called to Kendal for the Museum opening in 1994

This evocative photograph of Rachel was taken when we had a visit from a Canadian film crew in 1999. They needed some extras dressed in 17th century costume for their film. She is sitting on an old wooden bench in the gallery overlooking the museum room – a wonderful juxtaposition of the 17th century and the modern exhibition with all its high tech 20th century below

We will always be grateful for all that Rachel and Ian did for the Quaker Tapestry and for their friendship over the years. Our happy memories of them both will be cherished and remain in the photos, drawings and the stories we continue to recall

If you would like to make a donation to Quaker Tapestry in Rachel’s memory you can do so online, by post or by contacting our friendly office team

 

 

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