Friends at the RSN

Up early and ready to go, we left our hotel at 8:20 and walked to the Tube station. I’d been in London before and have ridden the tube many, many times but…never at rush hour in the morning! Oh my goodness! There were so many people and getting on was a matter of squishing into the car and hoping that those inside moved together more,. so new passengers could get on. Everyone was typically polite and the words “sorry, oh, pardon” were heard often. The ride was fast, jiggly and very cozy. Then off, change lines (say goodbye to my husband for the day) and onto Waterloo Station.


 At 8:45 I was on my way to get a coffee to have on the train and checking which track my train would leave from. At a little after 9 am I was on my way. Since I was going out of the city the train was much calmer than the Tube and I really enjoyed looking out of the window as we rolled along.

Once at Hampton Court Station it’s quite a short walk to the Palace, just across the Thames. Coming into the gates I spied a lovely Irish girl painting the gate. I took a minute to talk with her (which is how I discovered she was Irish)and compliment her on her meticulous work.


 Just before 10:00 I got to reception, got my pass and walked up to the RSN with Caroline Rowe. And I mean UP! The elevator is being repaired and we climbed up three long flights of spiral stone stairs to get to the school work rooms. I felt like I was on my way to visit Rapunzel.

Upstairs, Caroline introduce me to Deb Wilding. Deb is usually based in Bristol but had come to London to work with Owen Davis who is teaching the Jacobean certificate course. Deb is doing the new Future Tutors program and loving every minute of it. She has two children and a super supportive husband and mother in law who are helping while she’s away. Her enthusiasm for embroidery and for her course was infectious!

I’d arrived just in time for tea break. This was the highlight of my stay in London. Many of the students in the Jacobean course are readers of The Unbroken Thread and it was gratifying and humbling to meet them and hear how my posts have helped them prepare for this course.

People who take the courses at the RSN Hampton Court come from all over the world and many come for an entire 8 weeks to do the whole certificate in one go! Unbelievable! I’ll introduce you to a few of them along with their stories. Who knows, maybe some day you, or even I, will join RSN students in London!


 This is Karen who now comes from Illinois in the USA. Before she retired, she worked at Stanford University in California in upper level administration. She is now pursuing her passion for embroidery. Her dream is to run her own business designing and selling needlework patterns. Her choice of colors for her Jacobean piece caught my eye – I especially love the greens she’s using!


 This is Rachel from Australia. She is in London from Australia for the entire 8 weeks to do all four components of the Certificate. Here Owen Davis is demonstrating chain stitch for her (but at just this moment she isn’t paying a bit of attention!) She wasn’t the only student from down under – there were three others, two from Australia and one from New Zealand. Just like Jan, pictured below, I am amazed that they will travel so far and stay for so long really. It really demonstrates the passion we embroiderers have for our art!


 As you can see behind Jan, there are examples of crewel work designs all over the walls of the workroom. Inspiration is everywhere!  On one wall are all of the designs by the students currently in the course. It was wonderful!


 The youngest student was Ann-Sophie from Leverkusen, Germany. Yep, Germany! She has already trained in tailoring and wanted to learn surface embroidery techniques and chose to come to London to the RSN.


 Lastly I’d like to tell you a little about Bonnie, from New York. She was full of the typical zest for life one often finds in New Yorkers. She was at the RSN following her heart’s passion. She’s come to a time in her life where she felt driven to express her creativity and embroidery was the way to do so. How many of us, I wonder, have you come to embroidery in the same way?


You must have noticed that almost all of the photos show the tops of heads – no faces except Rachel’s when she looked away for a moment. Everyone was intent on their work and all of them were prepared to spend their upcoming weekend stitching to get their piece finished by the end of the course. It’s an intense 8 days.

I loved visiting a room full of embroiderers. The bond between all of us is strong because of our art and, although I arrived not knowing any of them, I left with new friends who I will keep in touch with via the blog and email.

Oh! and the lovely Irish girl had almost finished the gate when I left at 3:30! Perseverance!





10 thoughts on “Friends at the RSN

    • Hi Sharon,

      So glad you enjoyed reading about all the students. It is such a fun place and so many interesting people.
      Liebe Grusse,

  1. So glad you enjoyed your visit. The whole group have been wonderful to work with and I have very much enjoyed the two weeks.

    But glad to come home for a rest and catch up on family life.

    • Hey Debs,

      I was just wondering if you are all okay?

      Thank you for your dedication in getting us to the line. I hope no more fainting spells and trips to the hospital.

      And Kathy, fyi, Debs attended class on our final crazy day trying to get our Mounting task completed. Now that’s dedication after getting out of the hospital at 4am!

      I don’t think the hot weather did any of us any favours.
      Thinking of you,
      Chris (Melbourne, Australia)

      • Hi Chris,

        Debs didn’t saya word to me about all this! Sounds like it was a rough last few days. I’m so glad to know everyone got finished – it’s always a push at the end!

        Liebe Grüße,

  2. How wonderful for you to meet all those people. And how I envy you and them. I would love to do this, all 8 weeks of it but as I would never get up the stairs in my wheelchair nor would my body sustain the solid hours and hours of work all in one hit, I think it is going to remain just a dream for me. But please keep telling us of your adventures, vicarious is better than none, lol.

  3. While it may not be as exciting as taking the courses in Hampton Court Palace, it is possible to take the RSN courses in Burlingame, California. Lucy Barter is the local RSN instructor and, along with instructors from RSN headquarters, conducts these classes. Check the RSN class schedules on their website for more details.

  4. Chris – I would not have missed it for the world.

    Glad you all got to that finishing point. I thought it was hot in London but at the moment I am in the south if France in very hot conditions… Too hot to sew even for me.

    Hope very much to meet you all again at some point but would love some finished results pictures… Maybe kathy would pass on my email.

    Debs xx

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