Elaborate piece of embroidery recreating famous Sidmouth painting is donated to museum

Sisters Patrica Mountford,Julia Davies and Joy Seabridge hand over their mothers (Phoebe Holley) cro

Sisters Patrica Mountford,Julia Davies and Joy Seabridge hand over their mothers (Phoebe Holley) cross stich to Sidmouth Museum Curator Nigel Hyman. Ref shs 11-17TI 9017. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

A cross-stitch tapestry recreating a famous panoramic view of the seafront has been donated to Sidmouth Museum.

The intricate replica of the Long Picture was made by the late Phoebe Holley, who was 75 when she began working on the item.

The elaborate piece of embroidery took her three-and-a-half years to complete and has now become a permanent feature at the museum after it was donated by her daughters Patricia, Julie and Joy.

The original Long Picture was painted by Hubert Cornish in 1814. It hangs in the museum with other versions of the watercolour, including an 1815 engraved First State edition and early watercolour sketches.

Nigel Hyman, museum curator, said: “I think it complements the other versions of the Long Picture. It’s an exact replica, even the clouds in the sky. It’s very precise. It is modern, but that doesn’t take away from its importance.

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“I think that it is unusual for anywhere on the coast to have a panorama. The fact is, there are not many towns, especially in Devon, that have anything like this.

“We have visitors who like to see the view and come to THE museum and match what they have seen with the original picture. They recognise the beginnings of the Bedford Hotel, the Hotel Rivera and they recognise the Fort Cafe as it is now from the buildings they have seen.”

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Mrs Holley was born in Withycombe, Exmouth, in 1915, where her father ran a horticultural nursery. After training to become a nurse, she joined the army and was posted to India, where she met her husband Edward.

The couple purchased a holiday cottage in Sidmouth and became involved with many organisations and activities in the town.

The museum will reopen for its new season on Friday, March 31, from 10am.

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