The Royal School of Needlework: archive photos


The Royal School of Neeedlework was established in 1872 to provide a source of income for women with no financial support and to safeguard traditional craftmanship against the backdrop of emerging mass-production. Still going strong today, the RSN Embroidery Studio works on large and small commissions (and most recently was in the news for its exquisite work on the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress). These are some fascinating photos from their archives…

An early photograph showing The Royal School of Needlework’s showroom at Exhibition Road in Kensington, circa 1876.

The RSN workroom, busy creating military banners, circa 1920

A RSN screen design –¬† a selection of designs were sent out to customers for them to choose from and then returned the next day by post.

Working on the Coronation Robe of State in 1953.

Working the royal standard for English Heritage’s Dover Castle.

The Royal Opera House curtains 1997

Working the original whitework embroidery artwork for Sir Paul McCartney’s ‘Ecce cor meum’ album in 2006.


As well as bespoke hand-embroidered commissions, the Royal School of Needlework restores and repairs antique textiles including re-weaving damaged tapestries, lining hangings for display, replacing antique beads in embellished furnishings, repairing delicate whitework linen and mounting historic samplers. It also runs leisure and professional course for men and women, including a Degree in Hand Embroidery, throughout the UK, and in the US and Japan. For more information call +44 (0)20 3166 6944 or visit




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