Why This Room is Special
‘Let us not take for granted’, Virginia Woolf wrote, ‘that life exists more fully in what is commonly thought big than in what is commonly thought small’. The curators had this in mind when we began to think about the details of this exhibition.
The fabric which has been created to upholster the furniture in this room has been inspired by Georgiana Verney, the 17th Lady Willoughby de Broke, and her work in the local community.
Warwickshire in the 1860s was in crisis. Cheap imports of French ribbons meant that the Coventry ribbon weavers were crushed. Thousands were destitute. Georgiana joined with her friends highlighting the crisis, raising money for those in need by holding ‘Ribbon Quadrilles’ as fundraisers. The textile designers, Rapture and Wright have designed a special fabric – Quadrille Pink – in honour of the Coventry Ribbon Weavers, and Georgiana’s support for them. (We know that Georgiana wore pink ribbons to the Ribbon Quadrilles). The pattern of the fabric has been modelled on an original Coventry Ribbon dating from the 1850s or 60s from the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum archives (pictured here)
and the fabric is designed to look as if a ribbon has been repeatedly wound around a chair seat.
When Georgiana died in 1889, people from all over the region came to pay their respects. Her obituary noted that “No good work was ever promoted in that part of the county without her ladyship helping to forward its success by personally interesting herself in it and liberally subscribing to carry it out. In all cases of distress, too, she was ever ready to show practical sympathy, and many a family has been saved the bitter pangs of penury by her ladyship’s generous help.”