Queen Mother's Clothing Guild

Badge of the Queen Mother's Clothing Guild, formerly known as the Queen Mary's Needlework Guild (QMNG). Badge of the Queen Mother's Clothing Guild, formerly known as the Queen Mary's Needlework Guild (QMNG).

The Queen Mother's Clothing Guild (QMNG) is a charitable institution closely related to various (female) members of the British royal family. It is responsible for making and distributing thousands of garments to those in need throughout Britain and elsewhere. From the beginning, these garments were either sewn or knitted, but because of its name it was decided to include an entry about it.

According to the official guild history, the Guild was formed in 1882 when Lady Georgina Wolverton (née Tufnell; 1825-1894) was asked by the Matron of a Dorset orphanage to provide 24 pairs of knitted socks and twelve jerseys for the children. She and a number of other women started a small guild to help the orphanage and other charities. According to one newspaper account (The Chicago Tribune, 18th November 1894), the origins of the Guild lay in a discussion between Lady Wolverton and a friend: 

In discussing the subject with a friend she said: "If only a little bridge could be thrown over from the Island of Waste to the Island of Want, how both would benefit." She at once began to lay the foundations for a bridge of needlework, and the structures that have spanned the Islands of Waste and Want and united them by this simple plan have resulted in a most brilliant and inspiring success. Its prosperity and steady growth have been the result of the simplicity of the work and the fact that it favours no caste, no sect, nor hampering prejudices. The object of the Guild is to furnish new, plain, and suitable garments to meet the great need of our hospitals, homes, and other charities.

The number of volunteers grew and by 1883 there were 460 members. In 1885, HRH Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, Duchess of Teck (1833-1897), became Patron of 'The London Guild'. The Guild was re-named in 1889 to 'The London Needlework Guild'. In 1885, Mrs. Harpence (Philadelphia, USA) founded an American branch called 'The Needlework Guild of America'. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, this charity was still providing clothes to people all over the USA.

Following the death of the Duchess of Teck in 1897, HRH Princess Mary (1867-1953), the wife of the later King George V, became the patron of 'The London Needlework Guild'. She was to be Patron from 1898-1953, a period which included the First (1914-1918) and the Second World War (1939-1945). In 1914 the London Needlework Guild changed its name to the 'Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild' and started to produce and send thousands of garments to those in need at home as well as to the troops overseas. There were comments at the time that some knitted items were beautifully made, but some were not. Apparently, there were even some garments whose intended function could not be worked out.

The work of the Guild continued after the First World War and it is estimated that they distributed at least 56,000 garments per year. During the Second World War (1939-1945), however, due to the lack of resources and means to distribute garments, many branches of the Guild ceased to work and the number of garments distributed decreased considerably. The Guild’s work slowly recovered, but it never reached the heights of its earlier years. In 1950, for example, 14,843 garments had been sent to 130 charities around Britain. In 1953 Queen Mary died, and HM Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mother; 1900-2002), became the Patron of the Guild. She was Patron from 1953-2002. During this period, the Guild continued to send out over 15,000 garments each year. In 1986 the Guild changed its name to the 'Queen Mary’s Clothing Guild' as a more accurate description of the Guild’s work. In 2003, Princess Alexandra became Patron of of the Guild. In 2010 the name of the Guild was changed once again to the 'Queen Mother’s Clothing Guild' as a tribute to the late Queen Mother.

During the period when Queen Mary was the Patron, the headquarters of the Guild was established at Friary Court, St. James’s Palace, London. This building remains the main offices of the Guild to the present day (2015).

Digital sources:

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwAZZVCSBeQ (retrieved 2 April 2016).

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 28 June 2016).


Last modified on Thursday, 27 April 2017 09:00