The textile samplers in this post were created by Lorina Bulwer (born 1838, in Beccles on the Suffolk/Norfolk border of England). Unfortunately, only the scantest details are known of Lorina’s life: she was the middle child with two brothers, she was educated and grew up in a middle-class family, she never married, living with her parents until they died. In approximately 1907, Lorina was committed to the Great Yarmouth Union Workhouse by her brother Edgar, who deemed Lorina “incapable of running her own affairs.”
During her confinement at the Union Workhouse until the time she died, Lorina created at least three samplers (shown in this post). Two consists of square embroidered images of men engaged in a dispute. The remaining sampler is a 12 foot by 1 foot cloth consisting of scraps of fabrics sewn together and embroidered upon with closely spaced writing. The writing is rambling and difficult to follow. A transcription of the confessional sampler can be found here.
Lorina’s difficult and poignant life will not be forgotten. In 2012 the samplers were acquired by the Costume and Textile Museum in Norwich. They recently appeared in the exhibition, “Frayed: Textiles on the Edge,“ held at the Time and Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth (10 October 2013 – 2 March 2014).
The samplers are now on display in the ‘Letters from the Workhouse’ exhibition at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, Norfolk until 1st June 2014.
To learn about another historic sampler, see “A confessional cross-stitch sampler by a nineteenth century English nurserymaid.”