A Bayeux Box

2022 is the 150th anniversary of the Royal School of Needlework, but much more importantly (as Mr F would say) it is also the Centenary of the Austin Seven, one of which you can see in the picture below, taken on the Figworthy honeymoon. There will be a whole week of festivities in the summer, with runs through beautiful countryside and so on, but a lot of it will also involve owners of Austin Sevens admiring each other’s Austin Sevens and talking about, er, Austin Sevens. What, I wanted to know, is planned for the non-Austin-Seven-mad spouse/significant other (who is usually, though by no means always, the wife/girlfriend) and any offspring?

An Austin Seven honeymoon

As just one possible activity, could I perhaps set up a little stitching corner? A table with some chairs, a pile of fabrics and threads and hoops and they could come and sit down for a bit and stitch. Ah, he said, but they’re trying to keep everything on site Austin Seven related. And then inspiration struck. I’m hoping to teach another course at Rugby’s Percival Guildhouse later this year, which would include a few classes on crewel or wool embroidery. And as I worked with great enjoyment on Bartram the Bayeux Ram, I’d been thinking of including one class on a Bayeux-themed project. For that reason I’d been studying the excellent online version of the tapestry made available by the Bayeux Museum, looking among other things at some of the horses. And what is a car, after all, but a mechanised horse? The Bayeux Austin Seven was born.

A quick Austin sketch

Well, conceived anyway. What I needed was a simplified outline that could be filled in with fairly large chunks of Bayeux stitch (which is a lot quicker than, say, cross stitch – a good thing as people are unlikely to want to sit and stitch for hours). And although I mentioned “Box” in the title because I like a bit of alliteration, actually my first idea was for a Chummy, like the 1925 one we went on our honeymoon in. I drew one with the hood down, and one with the hood up.

Two Chummy outlines

However, in order to cater for all (or nearly all) comers, I did indeed include our Box Saloon (1933), and as for a short while we looked after a 1936 Ruby, that too went in the line-up. Then I didn’t want the sporting owners (or rather, their stitching partners) to feel left out, so a Nippy completed the collection.

Three additional Austin Sevens

As usual when designing I got a bit carried away at this point, and decided that what it really needed was lettering like on the Bayeux tapestry. The captions there tend to say things like “hic Harold mare navigavit” (which roughly translates as “here Harold sailed the sea”), so what I wanted was something in this vein, but Austin Seven themed. I thought of “here Sir Herbert / wrought the Seven”, then decided it would look more authentic (in as far as a Bayeux Austin Seven can be said to be authentic in any way) in Latin, and eventually settled on “hic Herbert Dom. / Austin 7 fingit”. “Dom” is short for Dominus, which is Lord rather than Sir but is the closest I could get, and at the last moment I changed the figure 7 to Roman numerals. I like the look of it, but it’s probably a good idea to make the lettering optional…

Cod Latin in Bayeux tapestry lettering The lettering tidied up

Finally it was time to add some digital colour, to give me an idea of what I was aiming for. I went for fairly authentic colours, but the actual stitched versions will depend on a) whatever I’ve got in my stash of non-Milano crewel wools and b) what people want their embroidered Austin to look like; after all, if their spouse’s Austin is a non-authentic shocking pink, who am I to object to them recreating it in wool?

A bit of colour

After all, how accurate do these needlework cars need to be? In order to emulate the Bayeux tapestry, not very (judging by that ram I showed you a while ago). As long as they are recognisable by the afficionados I’m happy. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves – I need to get stitching!

Stitching a Bayeux Austin

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