The Rajah Quilt.

If you are one of the many who are fascinated by the traditional craft of patchwork then the story of the Rajah Quilt told on Louisa’s Walk will have great appeal. Convict women travelling out to Van Diemens Land were supplied with two pound bags of patchwork pieces to give them something to do on the long voyage. It also taught those without any sewing skills, a valuable craft useful for future employment and, as Louisa would tell you, the BEST bit is they were allowed to keep whatever they made! On board The Rajah, leaving London in 1841, there were a number of convict women who were skilled in needlework and under the tutelage of a free settler named Kezia Hayter they pooled all their pieces to make a fantastic quilt which later became known as The Rajah Quilt. The idea behind this beautiful presentation quilt, consisting of over three thousand pieces, was as a thank you to Elizabeth Fry, the benefactor behind the quilting pieces. Fortunately the women had the foresight to embroider onto the quilt an inscription for posterity telling who made the quilt, where and when and for whom it was destined. On arrival in Hobart Town the quilt was duly dispatched back to England to be given to Elizabeth Fry. She died some four years later. Her Great (x4) Grand-daughter is now living in Tasmania and she joined us on Louisa’s Walk a few days ago!
The quilt disappeared for decades but was re-discovered just over twenty years ago in Scotland. Thanks to the inscription the finder realised its historical importance and it has now been returned to Australia to our National Gallery In Canberra. It is said that tiny pinpricks of blood can be seen on the reverse where the women pricked their fingers with the motion of the ship!
The Rajah Quilt is just one of the many fascinating stories that you will hear on Louisa’s Walk. Perhaps, when you come you may be the one selected to teach Louisa patchwork?

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One Comment

  1. Posted June 1, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Hullo Judith,

    Are you able to put me in touch with Elizabeth Fry’s X 4 grand daughter, now living in Hobart. I would like to discuss something with her relevant to my PhD Thesis.

    Many Thanks

    Christina Henri
    Roses from Heart(R)

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