Historical quilts enjoyed by hundreds of sick Ipswich children on display

A special quilt collection has been uniquely preserved by the Ipswich Hospital Museum.

Hand embroidered quilts from as far back as the 1920s are being photographed, printed on canvas and hung in Ipswich Hospital and the Ipswich Hospital Museum for generations to come to see.

Hundreds of hours were spent by children as young as six, hunched over their embroidery with a needle and thread to create something special for sick or injured children they would never meet.

Ipswich Hospital Museum treasurer Christina Marre said the caring community gesture brought comfort to sick or injured children as they lay in hospital.

“The Ministering Children’s League made the quilts from Rosewood and other towns and even some were made in Redcliffe,” Ms Marre said.

“The quilts have a nursery rhyme or story theme. Each square would be a different scene.”

Thousands of sick Ipswich children would have snuggled under the quilts over the years.

“It would be really good if people could remember if any of their parents or grandparents made any of the squares,” Ms Marre said.

“We would encourage anyone who was involved to come forward and let us know.”

The volunteers did meet one of the Ministering Children’s Leaguers Thora Dutney, nee Edwards, in 2015 when she was 94.

Mrs Dutney had embroidered a patch for a quilt when she was seven years old back in 1929 as well as two others in 1931 and 1932.

She was one of five children and grew up in Rosewood.

As she ran her fingers over her embroidery she spoke of the children she remembered and was sad to admit they were mostly gone. She herself passing away days afterwards.

The quilts were a treasured possession for the children who had them spread on their beds as they would only be bought out on special occasions.

“Christmas time and Easter or when any special dignitaries were coming, the nurses would put them on the beds in the children’s ward and the children would all feel very special,” she said.

The quilts will be displayed at the Ipswich Hospital on the fifth floor and also some will be on display at the Ipswich Hospital Museum.

“They were deteriorating from the light and some of them were quite frail and difficult to display,”Ms Marre said.

“By photographing them and printing them on canvas they are preserved and they look very realistic.”

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The Ipswich Hospital Museum is on the ground floor of the renovated Jubilee building on the grounds of Ipswich Hospital, adjacent to Court St.

The museum is open every Wednesday from 9am – 12pm and other times for groups by appointment.  Email is: info@ipswichhospitalmuseum.com.au

Entry is free.

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