Memories of Carol live on in a smock

CAROL Werrett not only lives on in the memories of her family and friends but also in a unique piece of craftsmanship.

It is an exquisite, meticulously-researched, hand-crafted recreation of a 19th century miller’s smock now on display in Stotfold Watermill.

Mill managers were looking for a special exhibit to show visitors how different milling life would have been in past ages.

Paul Redwood, then trustee of the mill, explained: “We wanted something to excite visitors’ imaginations and knew it would have to be perfectly recreated. I had seen many examples of Carol’s wonderful embroidery and dress-making and hoped she would agree to design and make a smock, but wondered if she would be prepared to take on this huge task.”

Carol agreed without hesitation and spend months of painstaking research as she searched the Internet, visited museums, talked to curators and tracked down specialist companies to find authentic material and threads.

She started her recreation in November 2007 and continued despite increasing ill-health, which caused muscle loss in her hands.

Her husband Bob recalled: “The coarse material was hard to push a needle through, but Carole was determined to carry on. She found the best way was to do a little bit, rest and then pick it up again. Everything she did, she gave 100 per cent to it.”

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The smock, now proudly displayed in its own cabinet, has detailed panels of traditional ears of wheat and other items associated with milling and is faithfully reproduced, even down to hand-turned wooden buttons (fittingly made by Ray Kilby, the current miller at Stotfold Watermill).

The material is a special hemp weave, which absorbs flour dust and would have provided the miller with extra warmth. The exquisite embroidery includes smocking on the front and even feather stitching round the hem.

Sadly, Carol was unable to finish the smock before her death on December 31, 2009. Her daughter, Julie Speltickx, who inherited her mother’s creativity in needlework, decided she would like to finish the smock in memory of her mother, so the finished result is very much a joint effort.

Bob and his daughter have also donated Carol’s working file - including detailed sketches, measurements and her correspondence in search of authentic items - to Stotfold Mill Archive.

The leader of the archive group, Carolyn Monaghan said: “The smock is a wonderful addition to the historical displays at the Mill and one which visitors are amazed by. The delicacy of the embroidery and the attention to detail make it a really special exhibit.”

Stotfold Watermill is open on alternate Sundays from 12.30 to 5pm, and every weekend from July to September, except for bank holidays. Milling usually takes place between 1 and 4 pm.

The next major event will be the Working Steam Weekend on October 8 and 9. Full details of opening times and special events can be found on the mill website: