LEA SCHOOL 1836
In the 19th century, one of the most important parts of the school curriculum for young girls was the mastering of sewing and darning skills, as they were expected to be able to make and repair clothing. Each school taught a slightly different skill set but they were all, basically, being able to create many different kinds of patterns darns, buttonhole stitches, needle weaving, and simple as well as more advanced techniques for clothing: smocking, ruffles and other embellishments. When the lessons were complete the examples were often bound in a small book, or mounted for display, such as is the case with Mary Stoppard's.
The Lea School in Derbyshire was referenced in a letter by Florence Nightingale to Alice Hepworth, a teacher, or "little mother of the infants", as phrased by Nightingale. This letter was written when she was 66 years old and discusses the importance of religious instruction for the "infants at Lea School in Derbyshire." Many teachers were driven by their Christian Socialist convictions in establishing these schools for young children in difficult home circumstances.
Mary Stoppard's "graduation" piece is mounted and framed, measuring 16" x 18". It is in excellent condition apart from a small hole in the lower left woolen pattern darn, and some minor stains on the body of the tiny night shirt in the top center.