A wonderful exhibition of Canadian Red Cross quilts will be held at Maidstone Museum, Saint Faith's Street, Maidstone ME14 1LH from 16th February until 23rd March 2013. The exhibition is free, and is open 10am-5pm, Monday to Saturday. The display features quilts donated by the Canadian Red Cross to the bombed out families of Britain in World War II. Visitors will be able to see quilts with fascinating stories from London and the South East together with examples of unusual patterns and designs.

The Canadian Red Cross Research Group have already documented 179 Canadian Red Cross quilts held in private hands, museums and  their own collection. By the time you read this, more may have been found at boot fairs, charity shops or in cupboards and lofts.

Many thousands of quilts were made by women organized throughout Canada by the Canadian Red Cross. They were sent across the Atlantic and then distributed to hospitals, armed forces, refugees, evacuees and families whose homes had been bombed. In the drab world of blackout materials and grey blankets the warmth, the colour and patterns of these quilts gave joy to the recipients many of whom treasured their quilts for years afterwards, even though they were very worn. Recently, the group received a quilt made of furnishing fabrics with a note from the owner describing how she had been given the quilt when their home in Essex had lost its roof from bomb damage. She had kept it all these years knowing that someone, some day would find a use for it.

The Canadian Red Cross Research Group was formed by three friends retired from their respective professions, all experienced quilters and members of The Quilters’ Guild. Their mutual interest in Canadian Red Cross Quilts has developed into a research  project whose aims are:-

  • To rescue as many as they can and form a joint collection
  • To raise the profile of these quilts both in the quilting world and with the general  public  by  giving talks to interested groups and finding exhibition space for the collection
  • To collect stories of the makers and the recipients

You can become part of quilting history by searching out these memories of WWII. More often than not, the quilts can be identified by a small label with the words ‘Gift of The Canadian Red Cross Society’ and the distinctive emblem.

Do you have a Red Cross quilt or a wartime quilt? Have you a story to tell about a wartime quilt? Have you seen one in a museum? You can help to record the history of these quilts by contacting the Canadian Red Cross Quilt Research Group. Please email annamansi@me.com or a.mansi2@ntlworld.com for more information.

The use of the name 'Red Cross' and the emblem has been authorized by the British Red Cross.