Royal School of Needlework

Hampton Court Palace, the home of the Royal School of Needlework. Hampton Court Palace, the home of the Royal School of Needlework.

The Royal School of Needlework (RSN) is a British hand embroidery school founded in 1872. It was originally called the Kensington School of Needlework, and thereafter the Royal School of Art Needlework. The word ‘Art’ was dropped in 1922. 

The RSN was established by Mrs Anastasia Dolby and Lady Victoria Welby, with the aim of training students in the various techniques associated with hand embroidery. The students were particularly trained to restore "Ornamental Needlework for secular purposes, to the high place it once held among decorative arts, and to supply suitable employment for poor gentlewomen” (Morris 1962:113). The school was greatly influenced by the British Arts and Crafts Movement led by William Morris. The school is given credit for promoting Art Needlework. Its first president was Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, the third daughter of Queen Victoria. In 1875 Queen Victoria accepted the position of its first patron. Since then the RSN has always been under royal patronage.

The RSN was originally based in Sloane Street, then it was moved to a purpose built building along Exhibition Road near the Victoria and Albert Museum, where students studied examples of textiles and dress. Since 1987 it has been based at Hampton Court Palace, London.

By 2014 the RSN has a large collection of different types of embroidery from throughout the world, a library, a visual archive of over 30,000 images, as well as a shop where materials, threads and equipment are sold. From initially concentrating on training hand embroiderers, the RSN has grown until it organises a wide range of activities and courses. It also has a bespoke studio for commissions, such as that of the Robe of Estate and royal dresses, for the production of replicas of antique textiles and for special conservation and restoration projects.


Digital source of illustration (retrieved 28 June 2016).


Last modified on Sunday, 20 November 2016 18:53