The Wemyss School of Needlework was founded in 1877 by Dora Wemyss, inspired by the Royal School of Needlework in London. (founded in 1872). The school began in Wemyss Castle and moved to it’s present purpose built home in 1880 on the Main street of Coaltown-of -Wemyss, Fife, KY1 4NX, Scotland.
Care of the school has been passed down through the Wemyss family and the School’s seamstresses since 1877 until Mary Birrell (the great granddaughter of the first mistress Mrs Webster) retired at the end of 2011.
The building was in great need of repair and now has a new lease of life with improved lighting, display and facilities.
The School houses an important and unique collection of textiles and artefacts. This includes items made at the school, original designs, tracings and paintings, source material as well as pieces collected from around the world. We will be exhibiting selected items changing throughout the year.
We are now in the process of preparing a new illustrated catalogue of our collection. The existing catalogue (not illustrated) was prepared by the eminent textile historian Margared Swain in 1984. Since this date many pieces have been added to the collection.
We will be delighted to welcome pre-arranged groups of up to 20 at the School outside our normal opening hours at a charge of £7.50 per head
(minimum charge £75).
This charge, and any donations, will be put towards the running costs of the School and a programme of conservation and repair of our collection of historic textiles and artefacts.
We will, as before supply bespoke pieces of work for you to sew from our large collection of designs or design something especially for you.
We are suppliers of quality needlework materials including canvas, Jacobean Twill, Appleton's Wool, silk and cotton embroidery threads, needles, sundries and books.
We will also have a small selection of contemporary Wemyss Ware made by Griselda Hill in nearby Ceres. Dora Wemyss who started the Needlework School in 1877 was very supportive of the original, locally made, pottery and it was named Wemyss Ware in recognition of her contribution to its success.
We can accept orders by telephone or email and we have credit card facilities. Link to shop.
We are delighted that Helen McCook, who trained at the Royal School of Needlework and is one of their most highly qualified and experienced teachers has agreed to teach for us. Please see our classes page for details.