Elizabeth ‘Bessie’ Burden stitched this embroidery after a design for stained glass by her brother-in-law, William Morris.

The work shows a winged angel minstrel in medieval-style dress holding two cymbals.

Burden’s sister Jane married Morris in 1859, after which Bessie took a central role in the production of many of Morris’ finest embroideries, including those for the Red House in Bexleyheath. She later lived in the Morris household in London, working on embroideries for the firm of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co and teaching the skills of needlework.

Angel Minstrel with Cymbals differs from Burden’s work for commercial production, suggesting it may have been a private project. It passed down through the generations to Morris’ great-nephew and is rare for its strong family provenance. It now becomes the first work by Burden to enter the collection of the William Morris Gallery, where it stands as an important example of the contribution made by women to Morris’ work and reputation.


Tim Langley, a great nephew of William Morris; his wife Alison Langley.

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