The Wordsworth Harp Needlecase

Housed in the museum collection of the Wordsworth Trust at Dove Cottage in the Lake District is the most exquisite miniature harp, hand-made from silk-covered card and decorated with a design of shamrocks applied in tiny pieces of gold foil. It is only on close inspection that one realises the strings of the harp are formed from graded sizes of needles, and the piece is indeed an intricately-worked needlecase.

This piece is of particular note for the Trust as it was the topic for Wordsworth’s poem “On Seeing a Needlecase in the Form of a Harp”. He refers to it as the work of the “Laureate’s Child”, referring to Edith May Southey, daughter of Robert Southey, Poet Laureate from 1813 to 1843 and a friend of the Wordsworths.

By kind permission of the Wordsworth Trust and Lady Anne’s Needlework Tours (and with grateful thanks to Edith for her original idea) I was allowed to recreate this little treasure. In my version, the panels are fully embroidered, without the use of applied foil shapes, and the design is based on Wordsworth’s favourite flower, the Lesser Celandine.

For more information about the Wordsworth Harp, see the kits pages.