A Thomas 1882: The Nellies
Hands Across the Sea Samplers
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Extract from the Hands Across the Sea Description: Anna, Angharad, or possibly Alwen? We shall never know as the young girl who finished this charming sampler on January 8th in the year 1882 did not record her Christian name. From the moment we first saw A Thomas’ sampler she has been affectionately called “The Nellies,” as her sampler features two elephants carrying howdahs.
It is easy to assume that samplers that feature exotic animals were taught either by teachers or stitched by children who had travelled to or lived in exotic places. However, this sampler is Welsh, and we believe that it was the exotic animals that travelled with the circus to the valleys of Wales. By the mid-19th century there were hundreds of circuses operating in Britain and the fairground entertainers travelled to their audiences. The circuses toured to even the smallest of towns and in the 19th century the development of the railways enabled circuses to travel further.
There is a Welsh folklore that tells a story about a Victorian travelling circus that visited the ancient market town of Tregaron in the upper Teifi Valley alongside the River Brennig in Ceredigion, West Wales. For hundreds of years cattlemen drove their herds through the town, and its twelve pubs kept the local clergy very busy in their perpetual war against the evils of drink. On the evening of the first Friday in July 1848 the town’s population was treated to a procession of caravans, horses, bears and elephants from Batty’s Travelling Menagerie.
There are several different versions as to what happened but the following Friday the pages of the Carmarthen Journal carried a more sombre story, reporting the death of one of Batty’s young elephants in Tregaron.
Some reports state that the elephant drank water contaminated by a lead mine and died shortly afterwards. The travelling show moved on, leaving either a dying or dead elephant behind. To this day the local legend persists that the unfortunate elephant, known locally as “Jwmbi,” was buried by local people behind what is now the Talbot Hotel.
The Nellies has been reproduced using Weeks Dyeworks 40ct Zweigart based linen in Parchment with one strand of Au Ver à Soie silk from their d’Alger range. The skein quantities used for the model have been listed in the thread legend below. We have provided conversions for Au Ver à Soie from their 100.3 range together with DMC. We have used the vibrant colours found on the front of the sampler today.
Soie d’Alger / 100.3 / DMC ~ Colour Description
524 x 1 / 303 x 1 / 832 x 1 ~ Golden olive
622 x 1 / 240 x 1 / 3821 x 1 ~ Straw
943 x 2 / 779 x 2 / 321 x 2 ~ Christmas red
1414 x 1 / 652 x 1 / 336 x 1 ~ Navy blue
1735 x 1 / 486 x 1 / 930 x 1 ~ Antique blue ~ dark
1844 x 1 / 108 x 1 / 520 x 1 ~ Fern green ~ dark
2132 x 1 / 718 x 1 / 3348 x 1 ~ Yellow green ~ light
2145 x 1 / 152 x 1 / 730 x 1 ~ Olive green ~ very dark
2757 x 1 / 468 x 1 / 926 x 1 ~ Grey green ~ medium
3312 x 1 / 345 x 1 / 3041 x 1 ~ Antique violet ~ medium
3724 x 1 / 707 x 1 / 936 x 1 ~ Avocado green ~ very dark
4114 x 1 / 517 x 1 / 840 x 1 ~ Beige brown ~ medium
4222 x 1 / 323 x 1 / 676 x 1 ~ Old gold ~ light
F10 x 1 / 211 x 1 / 739 x 1 ~ Tan ~ ultra very light
The design area is 303 stitches (w) x 324 stitches (h). Our calculations have included a 3″ margin for finishing and framing.
28ct ~ Design: 21.64″ x 23.14″ Fabric: 27.64″ x 29.14″
32ct ~ Design:18.94″ x 20.25″ Fabric: 24.94″ x 26.25″
36ct ~ Design:16.83″ x 18.00″ Fabric: 22.83″ x 24.00″
40ct ~ Design: 15.15″ x 16.20″ Fabric: 21.15″ x 22.20″
46ct ~ Design: 13.17″ x 14.09″ Fabric: 19.17″ x 20.09″
56ct ~ Design: 10.82″ x 11.57″ Fabric: 16.82″ x 17.57″