Over the thirty years that I have been fortunate enough to be a Guide at Parham my favourite item has varied, but one that returns frequently is the needlework Christening Cushion cover – it is signed and dated 1644, and displayed in the Great Chamber.
The intricate workmanship of 900 stitches to the square inch and the humour of the double eyebrows (registering the surprise of Pharoah’s daughter and her handmaidens at finding Moses in the bulrushes amongst fish, birds, insects and even a leopard, all wonderfully out of scale) never cease to amaze me. The blue and pink in the passementerie that surrounds the edges of the cushion is another lovely detail. Also, there are pears in the embroidery, which could be an added reason for Mr. Pearson having given it to his wife, Alicia, as ‘ Parham’ means a pear enclosure.
Pears feature in a number of other works in the Collection and, as I have come to realise over the years, there is always a reason behind why the Pearsons acquired the wonderful things they did.