The making of our County Standard

In early 1949 it was suggested that a County Standard should be designed and commissioned for the Girl Guides of Essex. It was funded from the profits of the County Rally held at Hylands Park attended by HRH The Princess Margaret on June 25th 1949.

Mrs Coleman Smith, Essex Lone Secretary, was commissioned to make rough sketches for discussion, by the County Court of Honour on a resolution proposed by Maldon Division. When her plan was finally approved it went to the College of Heralds who drew up the working design. When the materials had been decided on and run to earth - itself no mean task - the Royal College of Needlework prepared the large-scale design and stretched the work where necessary onto frames.

The material was to be " lute", a finely woven pure silk ribbon material. Satin had been used for the Chief Commissioner's Standard and it soon split; lute has been proved to be in good condition after 100 years. But nowhere in England or abroad could any be found of the fine lustre used for banners. At last some was found strangely enough in Essex, at Warner’s in Braintree, where Mr. Hunter was moved to help us. Seeing our despair he consented to weave a piece of the blue required specially for us, and found a piece of the gold and the red.  The Standard is of course double and as each section was framed up it was passed out to people known to be fine needleworkers.  When we got to the big middle section (the Galleon frame and the tail-piece part green and part blue) we hit another snag; green lute did not exist and Warner's did not think they could weave just the two yards required.  Nevertheless, they did!  Evidently they felt they could not let the Standard down and they put this colour into stock.  The Royal School found us the small piece of umber brown for the Galleon.

The work was now (literally) cut out.  Sixteen loose motifs and four yards of sea all had to be tacked in place and appliquéd with such a fine stitch that none is seen when finished.  Mrs. Tabor of Rochford and helpers worked on one, another was started at the Hyde. Parties of four could work well round the frames.  “Come for the day and bring eats (drinks will be supplied). Tacking can be done by relatively inexperienced people."  In the end, 314 people took part in the project and it was finished just before the Coronation.

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