Blencowe, Agnes (1819-1896)

Agnes Blencowe was an English embroideress and one of the founders of the Ladies Ecclesiastical Embroidery Society. She was the daughter of John Prescott Blencowe and Pleasance Everard, who had a total of eleven children, most of whom never married. Agnes Blencowe acted as housekeeper to her brother, the Rev. Edward Everard Blencowe.

Agnes was very religious and took a keen interest in the design of English church embroidery. In this respect she was influenced by the writings of the English art critics, William Morris and John Ruskin. They were the founders of the English Arts and Crafts Movement and the Art Needlework movement of the latter half of the nineteenth century.

In 1854 she helped to found the Ladies Ecclesiastical Embroidery Society. The stated aim of the society was to “supply altar cloths of strictly ecclesiastical design either by reproducing ancient examples or by working under the supervision of a competent architect.” The ladies of the society gave their time freely and only charged for the materials used.

In 1863 Agnes became an exterior sister and in 1872 a professed nun. At the time some Anglican convents had embroidery schools and workrooms attached to them, where the sisters and others could help with the work. Under the guidance of Sister Agnes, the embroidery room at St. Mary the Virgin, Wantage (England), was opened in 1866. As a result of the high quality work produced, orders quickly came in and the workroom thrived. It remained in operation until the 1970's. Sister Agnes ran the embroidery room for about twenty years until she had to stop due to blindness. She was later remembered by the nick-name ‘The Archbishop of Church Embroidery’. She died in 1896 at the convent in Wantage.

With thanks to Peter Blencowe of the Blencowe Family Association for his help in writing this entry


Digital source of illustration (retrieved 3 March 2017).


Last modified on Friday, 03 March 2017 20:35