This piece of embroidery was done by a Cornish girl, Sibella Rowe. She recorded her name and the date that she finished her work ‘Sibella Rowe Worked at Mrs. Porter’s 1784’.
Sibella was 13 years old when she stitched the map at Mrs Porter’s school. Samplers like this map of England were used to teach geography and needlework. Many were made at the end of the 18th century when they were at their most popular. The map and motifs were drawn on to the ground before working in coloured silks or chenille threads. Some maps were bought printed ready to be worked, usually on a silk or silk satin ground. Tammy (fine, glazed wool), linen, and tiffany, a very fine muslin like fabric, were also being used as grounds for map samplers.

This sampler is embroidered with coloured silk threads in cross, chain, satin, and stem stitches. The map outlines the counties of England and Wales, and the names of some important cities, including Exeter, are very neatly worked in cross stitch. The maker, Sibella Rowe, was born in Launceston, Cornwall, in 1771. During the 1770s, several rural schools were set up to educate young ladies in Devon and Cornwall. Mrs Porter appears to have been well known. She had moved from Truro to Launceston to establish a new school before 1779. She was the daughter of the Rev. Mitchel, vicar of Veryan, and educated in Chelsea, London. ‘A sensible and well-informed lady’, Mrs Porter tried to teach her students along similar lines to the London schools, but had little success. ‘Mrs Porter had great merit, but her aims, perhaps, were too high for the country’, according to historian Richard Polwhele, writing in 1806.
Accession Loan No.
Collection Class
Textiles and equipment
Common Name
Simple Name
Full Name
Map of England
length 454 mm; width 520 mm
Production Person Surname
Production Person Initials
Period Classification
George III (1760-1811)
Production Date
Production Town
Production County
Production Country
United Kingdom: England
Production Area Region
Northern Europe
Production Continent
Family Group

Tammy (wool); Silk

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