Conservation of the William Morris Lanercost Dossal

People working on the conservation of the Lanercost dossal
Working on the conservation of the Lanercost Dossal

Heritage Grants

BRAMPTON, Cumbria, North West
Lanercost Priory (St Mary Magdalene)
Restoring and arranging for the permanent exhibition of the Lanercost Priory Dossal

The Lanercost Priory Dossal, a 24ft x 4ft embroidered wall hanging, was commissioned in 1881 by Charles Howard, 9th Earl of Carlisle. The dossal was designed by William Morris (1834-96) who was a personal friend of Howard, a famous poet and a founder of the Pre-Raphaelite 19th Century Arts and Craft Movement. The dossal is of great artistic and historical significance, it was embroidered by the ladies of the Parish and hung behind the Priory altar on Easter day April 1887.

The dossal had seriously deteriorated having been hung unprotected and largely uncared for in the Priory for over a hundred years. The dossal was taken to the Scottish Conservation Studio in September 2012 where it was separated into its original three sections. This made its care and handling much simpler. It was then sent to the Royal Manufacturer of Tapestries, De Wit, Belgium to be cleaned by wet suction. When returned to the Scottish Conservation Studio it was extensively repaired and then relined.

The church established an embroidery group to produce embroidered facsimiles for display in the building and hosted a series of talks and events to engage people in the fascinating history of the dossal.