On a red ground, with bird and wing motifs, within a narrow camel border, 388 x 126cm.
The Lady Winifred Warneford Strangman Collection of Costume and Textiles
The Property of Joan Loraine (Granddaughter)
Like many English families, the Warnefords served either in the church or in the army, and the army meant service throughout the Empire. My grandmother's father, who was always referred to as 'Pop' by my mother, was the seventh son of a rector, and begun his army life in Quebec.
The story goes that his senior officer was engaged to the daughter of the Governor. She was beautiful and very well looked after, with her own phaeton and a pair of matching horses. When this officer went on leave, he asked young Warneford to keep an eye on her for him. He did this so ably that, before the officer returned, the two of them were married. He was sent to Ireland, where their eldest daughter, Beatrix was born, and then to South Africa.
His second daughter, Winifred, was adept at painting, particularly butterflies and flowers, and won a scholarship to the Slade School of Art. She left South Africa and went to London and made friends with a fellow artist Alice Strangman, who invited her to her home. There she met Alice's brother Thomas and wrote back to her mother 'I have met the man I am going to marry'. And indeed they were married, on July 25th. 1896, with a Warneford uncle conducting the service. After a honeymoon in Austria and Switzerland they went down to Trieste and set sail for India. Thomas was already a member of the Bombay Bar.
So began their life in India. One of my grandmother's delights was the famous Bombay market. Where all manner of things were to be found; tea and silk from China, wonderful many coloured brocades from the looms of the Bombay weavers, beads and saris, besides fresh fruit and vegetables. She loved to buy good trimmings and fine cloth and, as she had done when a girl in Africa, she made her own clothes and became ever more skilled and imaginative in what she made. Silk parasols were imported from China and she painted butterflies on them and made them unique. Delight in clothes and turning whatever she had to good account also remained an outstanding characteristic.
In the 39-45 war my grandparents left London and moved to a charming old house in Kent, right out in the country. There were no shops and later on, clothes rationing was introduced. Like most of us, she had a collection of balls of wool, the remnants left over from when the garment for which they had been bought was finished. She made patches of these wools and joined these patches together to make beautiful cardigans. This was not haphazard. She made a paper pattern and used this as a guide to work out the size and shape of the patches. Then she selected colours; they were all patchwork, but some emphasized shades of yellow, some emphasized blues and they were joined together by a misty grey. I have never seen garments to equal them.