The moment we saw Anna’s sweet sampler we knew that Hands Across the Sea Samplers had to add her to their portfolio. Whilst acquired by Nicola in England, the sampler, which features two adorable young girls who are either twins or sisters very close in age, was destined for Australia as Sandra has two young granddaughters. Sandra has reproduced the original sampler for one of her granddaughters using the colours found today on the front of Anna’s sampler. This is the sampler that has been charted for you within the pages of this booklet.
However, Sandra has also stitched a second version of Anna’s sampler for her other granddaughter. The two samplers are featured side by side in the centrefold of this booklet. The second version, although based on the first sampler, is an adaptation and uses a multitude of stitches: cross stitch over one and two linen threads, satin stitch, Algerian eyelet stitch, French knots, rice stitch, stem stitch, leaf stitch, two-sided plaited Spanish stitch, needle weaving (horizontal running stitch over one thread), brick stitch, Parisian stitch, long cross stitch, reverse tent stitch, daisy stitch, back stitch, alternating half cross stitch over one thread of linen and straight gobelin stitch. As Sandra plied her needle she felt that Anna was beside her whispering suggestions for each motif. If you listen carefully Anna may whisper to you, too!
Anna was most probably born on June 7th 1808 to George and Ann (nee Linford) Tench and was baptised, with her two sisters Elizabeth and Emma (were these the young girls Anna featured in her sampler?), on August 29th, 1814 at St Martins, Birmingham. The three girls’ baptism took place shortly after the birth of Emma. The baptismal records note that George was a carter and that the family lived in Brasshouse Yard. The Brasshouse was built in 1781 by the Birmingham Metal Company alongside the Birmingham Canal.
Anna possibly married Thomas Avis on October 11th, 1829 and can be found in Brighton in the 1841 census and living at 15 Sussex Street Brighton in the 1851 census with her husband and four children. Thomas’ occupation is recorded as a nail porter. Maybe they met in Birmingham through his work.
In the 1861 census Anna, now working as a monthly nurse, can be found living in North Lane Brighton with Thomas and one daughter Eliza, who was listed as a needle woman. By the 1871 census, Anna is a widow living in Old Broad Street London as a housekeeper. In 1881, the last census before her death Anna is living in Hatcham Road London with one of her sons, William an engine fitter, and his family. Anna died in 1888 aged 79 having lived a long life for the times.
Anns’s sampler has been painstakingly charted and lovingly stitched by Sandra Moffitt for her beloved granddaughters Sophia and Isla. This reproduction is dedicated to them.
“And be as the needle which enters not to stay, but to make way for a thread of uniting love.” ~ Thomas Comber
Anna’s booklet has been produced for Hands Across the Sea Samplers by Nicola Parkman. At the very core of Hands Across the Sea Samplers there is a team of needleworkers who are passionate about antique samplers and being able to share those samplers with you. Hands Across the Sea Samplers are on hand to help those stitching our charts. If you need assistance or have any questions we can be reached via email, address shown below, or the contact page on our website. Our website has stitching tutorials which can be found in the “sewing basket/tools” section.