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Stitching Together History: The Joseph Priestley Community Quilt



A remarkable creative project has been underway to honour the legacy of Joseph Priestley, the renowned scientist who made groundbreaking discoveries whilst a Calne resident living on The Green 250 years ago.


In the Library, at Bowood House in 1774, Priestley discovered dephlogisticated air, eventually to be named ‘Oxygen’. As Calne commemorates the 250th anniversary of Priestley's pivotal moment of scientific revelation, a dedicated group of locals has taken up needles and thread to create the Joseph Priestley Community Quilt.



Led by Sue Peskett, an avid stitcher with a keen interest in local history, the project aims to celebrate Priestley's contributions to science and the enduring spirit of discovery that defines Calne. Inspired by Priestley's ingenuity, the team set out to craft three quilts that pay homage to his legacy, using the Quilt-As-You-Go method.


The story of Joseph Priestley is one of curiosity and perseverance. In 1774, while living in Calne and conducting experiments at Bowood House, Priestley made the groundbreaking discovery of oxygen. His findings revolutionized our understanding of chemistry and laid the groundwork for modern science.


The project has captured the imagination of Calne residents young and old. From stitching circles to school groups, people from all walks of life have come together to contribute their talents to the quilt. As they sew, they reflect on Priestley's legacy and the impact of his discoveries on the world around them, whilst demonstrating the remarkable creative talent and craft skills that Calne has.



Lady Lansdowne, a patron of the arts and sciences, is set to unveil the finished quilts in July, marking a fitting tribute to Priestley's enduring legacy. The quilts will then be displayed in Calne Library throughout August, before finding a permanent home in the Town Hall.


The Priestley Community Quilt is more than just a piece of fabric – it's a symbol of Calne's history, creativity, and community spirit. As they put the finishing touches on their work of art, they know that they are not just stitching together squares – they are weaving together the threads of history, creating a lasting tribute to Joseph Priestley and his remarkable legacy.


Follow the project on Facebook or Instagram Calne_Community_Quilt_2024



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