The new banner was first mooted a year ago as being a good way to support the Abbey 900 Project which celebrates the founding of the Augustinian Abbey of St Mary in Cirencester in 1117 AD.  We were pleased to be asked to continue our work in St. John Baptist Parish Church where we have been conserving and restoring the textiles over the past two years.

The design is based on Augustinian quotations and emblems and was worked up by Jennette Murphy and myself with input from the Vicar. PCC approval was sought and given and the Vicar told us that a DAC Faculty was not required. Funding has been provided jointly by the Friends of the Parish Church and Cirencester DFAS.

Work started in late September 2016 with the two volunteers meeting almost every week in the Church or at my home. We were joined later by Jane Winstanley and her daughter Emily, who offered to computerize the work.

The banner is in the form of applique work, using a combination of damask, silk and very fine leather, with some embroidery. It hangs on an oak pole and we have been able to use a cross and hooks provided by the church. We were ably helped with the joinery by a parish church member.

To encourage community involvement, we held an Open Day in the church when about forty people came to put in more than a few stitches. They represented many local organisations and we have a list of those who came and were able to give them a signed photocopy of the banner as a ‘thank you’.     

We also took the banner to show and explain to two stitching groups in the Town and they were interested to be included. We have also displayed the work at our DFAS Meetings and local Study Day and  finally at our AGM in late July.

The banner was completed on 21st June 2017. Jennette and I took it along to the church as they were preparing for the Flower Festival and were able to put it on immediate display. Our Festival Patron, Bishop Rachael Treweek, then blessed Banner on Sunday 25th June 2017 at the Patronal Festival Evensong. It now hangs in the church and has been much admired.

As an addition to the Abbey 900 activities we were asked if we could cover or ‘dress’ Lego brick figures as canons for the Lego model of the Abbey being constructed in the church throughout the festival. We were delighted to be able to help out with this unusual request. They have now been joined by some small Cotswold lion sheep made with genuine wool that was donated to us!      

This has all helped to give the Cirencester DFAS quite a high local profile and a reputation for supporting such a worthwhile local festival as Abbey 900 has proved to be.

 Deirdre Waddell, Cirencester DFAS Heritage Volunteers representitive