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Wemyss School of Needlework

Located at the entrance to Wemyss Castle in Coaltown of Wemyss in S Fife, the Wemyss School of Needlework opened in 1877. It taught needlework to the daughters of miners in this and neighbouring villages, giving them the skills to establish a career in service. The initiative of Dora Wemyss (who later married Lord Henry Grosvenor, son of the Duke of Westminster), the school began in a room at the Castle, but moved to its own premises in 1880. Lady Wemyss was an excellent designer and created several patterns reproduced by the pupils. With up to 36 pupils at one time, the school regularly undertook work for the nobility and for royalty, including Princess Louise (1848 - 1939; a daughter of Queen Victoria who married the 9th Duke of Argyll), Queen Alexandra (1844 - 1925) and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (1900 - 2002).

Although no longer teaching needlework, the school displays a collection of fine garments and linens produced by the pupils in earlier times. The staff still accept commissions and undertake the restoration of historic embroidery and tapestries.


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