Our History

The RSN Embroidery Studio was founded in 1872 and is renowned for its exquisite hand embroidery for a range of clients from royalty, interior designers and fashion houses to individuals and families.

RSN Embroidery Studio 1872 – 2024

  • 1872RSN Embroidery Studio Founded

    The RSN Embroidery Studio was founded in 1872 as the School of Art Needlework, with the aim of preserving the art of hand embroidery and providing ‘suitable employment’ for gentlewomen who were ‘obliged to earn their own livelihood.’ 

    1872
  • 1875The RSN Embroidery Studio moves to premises on Exhibition Row, South Kensington

    1875
  • 18761876 Philadelphia Centennial International Exhibition

    1876
  • 1880Handbook of Embroidery Published

    The Handbook of Embroidery was published by the RSN in 1880 with a cover designed by Selwyn Image.

    1880
  • 1881Ecclesiastical embroidery

    Although founded originally for secular embroidery, in 1881 the RSN Embroidery Studio began to take on ecclesiastical commissions such as altar frontals and vestments.

    1881
  • 1900Nellie Whichelo in the RSN Embroidery Studio

    Nellie Whichelo worked in the RSN Embroidery Studio from 1879 to 1939, mostly as a designer in the paint room.

    1900
  • 1901Queen Victoria’s Funeral Pall

    45 embroiderers from the RSN Embroidery Studio worked for 21 continuous hours to create the pall for Queen Victoria's funeral.
    Image: Illustrated London News, 2 February 1901

    1901
  • 1903Coronation of Edward VII

    1903
  • 1903New purpose-built premises in South Kensington

    1903
  • 1911Coronation of George V

    The RSN Embroidery Studio produced a number of items for the coronation of George V and Mary, including an altar dorsal for Westminster Abbey 

    1911
  • 1924Miniature kingfisher embroidery made for Queen Mary’s Doll’s House

    1924
  • 1931Opening of the RSN Lingerie Department

    1931
  • 1937Coronation of George VI

    1937
  • 1941Second World War Crests

    1941
  • 1953Coronation of Elizabeth II

    1953
  • 1974The Overlord Embroidery

    From 1969 to 1974 the RSN Embroidery Studio produced the Overlord Embroidery to mark the events of D-Day. The embroidery consists of 34 panels and is 83m long. It was commissioned by Lord Dulverton and designed by Sandra Lawrence.

    1974
  • 1998Royal Opera House Curtains

    We worked on the curtains and pelmet of the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden after its refit in 1997-98.

    1998
  • 2011The Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress

    ©Hugo Burnand

    Working with Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen, our embroiderers created the bespoke lace on the wedding dress, veil and shoes.

    2011
  • 2013Embroidered dress for Naomie Harris at the 2013 Oscars

    ©AMPAS

    We worked the winning design of Suzy Amis Cameron’s Eco-Fashion Campaign ‘Red Carpet Green Dress’. The ‘Lava Dress’ was worn by actress Naomie Harris and unveiled at the 2013 Oscar Academy Awards ‘red carpet’.

    2013
  • 2017Buckfast Abbey Millennium vestments

    We produced a full pontifical set for Buckfast Abbey to celebrate their millennium. A pontifical set consists of a cope, chasuble, dalmatics, stoles, maniples, chalice, veils and a burse.

    2017
  • 2021Jay & Co armchairs - with Jay Blades

    The RSN Embroidery Studio joined forces with Jay Blades, the face of the hit BBC One Show The Repair Shop, to breathe new life into two iconic chairs.

    2021
  • 2022Evergreen, Embroidered wall hanging

    This large wall hanging was embroidered for the artist Katie Paterson. The work, entitled Evergreen, reflects the style of the arts and crafts movement and depicts every extinct flowering plant.

    2022