HistoryThe quilt was made in Somerset, England in the 1870s by Elizabeth Wiltshire. She was the great grandmother of the present owner and the quilt passed by maternal descent to Constance Humphreys (grandmother of owner), Joyce Fielder (mother), and then to Margaret Moloney the present owner. The quilt is kept on the double bed in her daughter's bedroom which is now used as a guest room. "The Quilt's Journey - This quilt was created by my great grandmother, Elizabeth Wiltshire who was born in Somerset, England in 1854. She was in her early twenties when she made the quilt for her glory box in the 1870s. She was from a well-to-do family and so had plenty of time to spend on making it. Elizabeth married John Bourke, an Irish electrical engineer and they lived in Northern Ireland. They had three children, Margaret, Constance (my grandma) and Jack. The marriage was not a happy one and Elizabeth left. John's rich Irish family held the children.
Eventually Elizabeth stole them back and proceeded to move all around England, hiding the children in convents while she earned a living as a cook in the 'big' houses, the homes of the wealthy. In her later years, Elizabeth lived with my grandparents, Constance and Jack Humphreys in Deal, Kent. My mother and the other grandchildren remembered Elizabeth in various ways. They loved her 'fancy' cooking at Christmas time but were a little afraid of her austere personality. She paid my mum threepence to scrub the floor in her upstairs room each Saturday, yet she also helped her to study for her scholarship.
Elizabeth Wiltshire was killed in 1945 during the Second World War. The air raid sirens sounded, Constance, (her daughter, my grandma) was dashing to the stairs to bring Elizabeth down to the bomb shelter when the bomb made a direct hit on their home. The door under the stairs fell across the passage forming a triangle, trapping Constance and saving her life. All that was found of Elizabeth Wiltshire was her left hand with the wedding ring on her finger. My parents were married in 1946 after the war ended. They emigrated to Australia in 1951 ('10 pound Poms') with their two daughters, me three years old and my sister, Carol one year old. Mum's parents, Constance and Jack visited us in Australia in 1965 and brought the quilt with them to give to Mum. Four years ago my mum was dying of cancer. She gave me the quilt. I treasure it, as I am sure my three daughters will in the future."
[Margaret Moloney, October 1999]
DescriptionWholecloth quilt of white polished cotton, hand quilted in an elaborate design. The backing is the same material as the top. The type of padding is unknown.
2330 x 206mm