Hands Across the Sea Samplers are pleased to present to you this charming and colourful sampler. With a young boy, dressed as a Cavalier and riding a rocking horse, it is a lovely heirloom sampler to stitch for a child. Rocking horses have been loved by children for many centuries. Their history can be traced back to the Middle Ages, when a popular children’s toy was the hobby horse. An artificial horse’s head attached to a long stick was placed between the child’s legs and they would ride the horse around. In the 16th Century the hobby horse was replaced by the barrel horse. A circular log supported by four legs and adorned with a horse head. The rocking horse in its current form appeared in the early 17th century. Bow rockers were invented, introducing rocking to the world of toy horses. It was found that they could easily topple over as they were heavy and had a high centre of gravity. The Victorians introduced a “safety stand” and this is the rocking horse that we know today.
Eliza was born on 18 May, 1807 in the village of Heslington close to the city of York in Northern England. She was christened the next day. Her Father was the village School Master and the Parish clerk. At the age of 12 Eliza recorded that her sampler was “wrought with the help of her mother at Heslington School” so we can presume that her mother taught the young girls needlework.
The school was built in 1795 in a back lane (now School Lane) at the expense of the village. We know that the school was a neat red brick building with two ground floor rooms and an attic. The master’s residence was attached. It could accommodate 90 children, but had an average attendance of 56. In the year 1835 twenty boys and twenty girls were taught there at their parents’ expense.
Eliza was recorded in the 1841 census as living with her father (her mother having died) in Heslington and the following year at the late age of 35 Eliza married George Hagston a shoemaker. They had a son, John Skelton Hagston, in 1843 giving him her father’s name and a daughter, Elizabeth Bramley Hagston, in 1846, giving the baby her mother’s name. Eliza passed away in 1848 at only 41.
The verse that Eliza chose for her sampler was taken from “Eve’s Hymn” from a long lost Oratorio called “The Death of Abel” written in 1755 by Thomas Augustine Arne, an English Composer who is better known as the composer of “Rule Britannia” and “God Save the Queen”.
Life’s road let me cautiously view, And longer disdain to be wise, Forebearing such Paths to Pursue, As my reason should hate or despise, To crown both my age and my youth, Let me mark where religion has trod, Since nothing but virtue and truth, Can reach to the throne of my God.
The Hymn also appears in Oliver Goldsmith’s book “The Citizen of the World” written in 1762. Oliver Goldsmith was an Irish Novelist whose most famous novel is “The Vicar of Wakefield”.
The sampler has baskets of fruit of many varieties, 2 beautiful bouquets of roses along with interesting birds that hover above the main feature of the child playing on the rocking horse with 2 pineapples either side.
Eliza’s sampler has been rated as being suitable for a confident beginner. The stitches used are cross stitch over 1 and 2 threads.