Object name


Date made

Circa 1901-1905

Place made


Autograph tablecloth in fine white linen with 215 embroidered signatures in red and black silk. The possible maker's name and date, Gertrude Mabel Rose 10 November 1901, are enclosed in one corner.

Content description

An almost square tablecloth in fine white linen with scalloped embroidered edging in black silk buttonhole stitch and red silk whipped chain stitch, scattered with 215 embroidered signatures in red or black silk back stitch. The back stitch is a variation involving forwards and backwards movement, resulting in a smooth line on the front and a more dotted appearance on the back. Some of the signatures are accompanied by dates between 1896 to 1905. It is likely that this object was embroidered by Gertrude Mabel Rose, whose name and a date, 10 November 1901, are enclosed in red stem stitch in one corner. It is likely that 10 November 1901 is either when she began or finished this tablecloth. 212 of the signatures are in English and three are in Urdu, Arabic, or Farsi.

The signatures include those from members of Rose's family and extended social circle in and around Oxford and London, while others belong to major figures such as singers, academics, and members of the aristocracy. Some of the signatures belong to individuals further afield, spanning from Ireland to India. Gertrude Mabel Rose (born circa 1878) undertook this tablecloth before her marriage to the doctor Otto May, who is listed on this tablecloth and whom she married in 1912. Other items from the Rose and May families are housed in the RSN collection.

It is likely that Rose either copied signatures from letters she received from friends and family and autographs she received from more major figures or that the individuals themselves signed the tablecloth and then Rose embroidered the signatures. The mangling of the Urdu/Arabic/Farsi script suggests the former. Pencil marks present throughout the tablecloth show that signatures were signed in pencil before Rose embroidered them. It was popular in the late 19th and 20th centuries to create items embroidered with many signatures, with arguably the most famous examples being the embroideries stitched by Suffragettes while in prison.

Some of the family members included on the tablecloth predeceased its making, so it is likely that Rose took their signatures from surviving correspondence or documentation available to her. Identifying every individual on the tablecloth would be a large undertaking, but some of the individuals included can be identified with ease. Syed Hussain Bilgrami was an Indian civil servant, politician, and educationalist. Alicia Adelaide Needham was an Irish composer of songs and ballads and a Suffragette. James Edwin Odgers was an Oxford theologian and academic. Théodore Botrel, whose signature is accompanied by a quote, was a singer-songwriter, poet, and playwright. Maida Lenwood was a missionary to Madras. Julius O. Sankey was an Oxford surgeon. John Gwenogvryn Evans was a palaeographer, literary translator, and inspector of Welsh manuscripts for the Historical Manuscripts Commission. Bernard FitzPatrick, Castletown of Upper Ossory, was an Anglo-Irish peer, soldier, and Conservative MP. Ethelbert Thomas Ruthven Murray was the son of the editor of the Oxford English Dictionary from 1879 to 1915. The large signature in the centre belongs to Hope Glenn, an American opera singer and music teacher living in London.

All of the 215 signatures are listed below. They are separated by quadrant. All names are listed from bottom left of each quadrant, left to right then returning right to left, repeating until top of quadrant. Men's names are embroidered in black, women's in red. These names are listed with surname first.

Bottom left quadrant:
Rose, Gertrude Mabel
Rose, Grandma Mary,
Macfadyen, Eric
Reynolds, Edith G.
Molyneux, Isabel
Rose, Geoffrey K.
Rose, T. [F.] H.
Macfadyen, E.
Rose, F. A [G.]
Emery, Mildred
Smith, Henrietta
Lenwood, Maida
Blott [w], H. Russell
Blott, E.
Murray, Hilda M. R.
Patton, F.C.
Wicks, Helen
Evans, Tringad [?] Knight
R[uthven]-Murray, Elsie M.
Smith, Norman H.
Snape, Thomas
Murray, James A. M.
Murray, Ada A.
Gran [Green?], Constance
Hartley, A. G.
Few, John E.
Murray, Oswyn A. R.
Blackburn, Aunt Fanny
Stanley B. Smith
Sedgley, Florence
[unidentified Urdu/Arabic/Farsi inscription of a woman's name -- Maryam or Mary Hojan or Hogan?]
Evans, J. Gwenogvryn
Smith, Florence M.
Rose, Gertrude C.
Pearse, Alex J.
Pearse, Ethel M.
Rose [Ross], E. R. [P.]
Haddon, Trevor
Rose, Gwen
Rose, Fanny
Ede, Henry
Stanford, William
Stanford, Myvanwy M.
Taylor, Mary Campbell
Sankey, Julius O.
Evans, Edith
Jones, Bel
Stock, Molly
Jeffries [?], W.B.
Work, Ruth
Rose, Cecil H.
Murray, Mildred O.
Rose, Douglas M.
Jones, Enid I. [J. ?]
Poyntz, H. [N. ?] J.
Rowell, Kittie
Moseley, Rex,
Hanley, Robert
Glenn, Hope
Rose, H. Cecil
Rose, P. J.
Rose, Eunice
Rose, Hubert A.
Lorenz, Elise
Ede, Annie

Top left quadrant:
Johnson, Agnes P.
Lowe, Emma P.
Urdu/Arabic/Farsi spelling of Syed Mahdi Hussain Bilgrami
Bilgrami, Syed Mahdi Hussain
Jones, Jane M.
[unidentified Urdu/Arabic/Farsi inscription, possibly reading, 'I wish I was in Berlin'. Could this connect to the Bilgrami inscription?]
Haddon, Mary
Wicks, John G.
Lewis, Cicily
Ruthven-Murray, Lilian J.
Ruthven-Murray, Ethelbert J.
Hills, Ann
Odgers, J. Edwin
Marshall, W. Ralph,
Crook, F. Eva
Spencer, H. J.
Schwerer, Marie
Rowell, Dorothy
Carter, Mabel L.
Carter, H. C.
Hills, Annie
Day, Myra
Day, Herbert J. [I. ?]
Murray, Aelfric C. R.
Cooper, Constance,
Jones, Ernest K. L.
Haddon, J. B.,
Haddon, Kathleen
Wacksters [?], Francis,
Rose, Lillie B.
Rose, Thomas E.
Hoare, Edith
Mills, Edgar
Dor[n]kin, Dryden
Day, Edith
Day, Walter H.
Rose, Elsie R.
Battersby, Christopher
Illegible signature
Patterson, Clara M.
Rose, Hannah
Rockhey, I. F.
Brown, Louise M.,
Rose, Barkley
Boyce [Bryce], Maud
Sanders, May E.
May, Otto
Brown, Winifred M.
Brown, Edmund R.

Top right quadrant:
Evans, Emrys H.
Taylor, J. Norman
Watkins, Dorothy M.
Rowland, A. Herman [?]
Moore, Edward C.
Rowell, Rouse S.
Holden, John
Jones, Gwen
Crook, Mary
Cooper, J. H.
Cooper, Annie
McFarlane [?], Alfred J.
Rose, Constance E.
Johnson, J.
Beatrice M. Johnson
Snape, S. Gertrude
McMaster, A. O.,
Varley, Louie H.
Watson, Mabel
Watson, William D.
Snape, J. J.
Meyer, Rich
Collis, Barbara
McMaster, M.
Mills, Nellie
Jones, A. Victor
Odgers, Lily
Fairbairn, Jeannie S.
Rose, Hilda M.
Orr, Gerald P. L.
Massie, John
Ulph, Arnold B.
Green, Mary J.
Green, Harold E. [?]
Sainsbury, Emmeline R.
Lenchman, Margaret G.
Snape, Maud M.
Snape, H. Lloyd
Johnston, John
Lenchman, Barbara
Needham, Alicia Adéläide
Cooper, Arthur S.
Macfadyen, Dugald [?]
Boraston [?], J. [L?] A.,
Botrele (black) Léssay (red)
Cooper, Howard
Rose, Laura
Rose, J. Holland
Johnson, Jessie M.
Johnson, .J [?] R.,
Brown, Beatrice A.
Brown, Albert W.

Bottom right quadrant:
Murray, K. [X.?] M.
Murray, Harold J. R.
Jones, W. S.
Fairbairn, Helen
Haddon, Alfred N
Haddon, Fanny
Bennett, Ernest N.
Shaw, W. Vernon
Castletown of Upper Ossory
Lewis, Jane E.
Stanford, Constance M.
Smith, L. Toulmin
Fairbairn, A. M.
Wells, Mary G.
Colborne, Geo.
Colborne, Anne L.
Smith, Helen
Rose, J. Baptist
Horton, Robert F.
Smith, Ethel
Odgers, W.B.
Bell, Mary M.
Wicks, Blanche J.
Wicks [Hicks?], Jas
Wicks [?], W. Young
Irvine, Alex J.
Bell, A. M.
Bell, A. M. (Different signature to above)
Hill, Rosalie
Wurtzberg, W. Fitchett
Cook, Enid
Jones, Nesta D
Matthew [?], Philip
Fortescue, E. Claude
Bro[w]nson, R. D.
Simmonds [?], W.
Bisikey [?], W.
Blott, Alice
Apperly, Muriel
Lee, D. C.
Lee, Elizabeth
Odgers, Margaret
Murray, Rosfrith W. [N?] R.
Johnson, Ella L.,
Brown, John
Brown, Ada H.


width: 86cm
height: 82cm



Credit line

Gift of James May, 2009.

Catalogue number


Other numbers

RSN 1746

Web references

© Royal School of Needlework