Eliza’s Embroidery or why some things are just meant to be. . . . . . .
So there I was, trying to work out where Sir William Himbury had been educated and getting nowhere. I decided to try doing a Google search with the words ‘Himbury’ and ‘School’ on the off chance that there might be a list of old pupils online somewhere. There wasn’t, but instead a Bath antique dealer’s site came up and on there was an embroidery sampler. The name embroidered into the design said Eliza Himbury aged 13, Evershot School, 1815!
I was gobsmacked! I am sure all you Himburys out there know how rare the Himbury name is, and what were the chances of me finding the antique dealer’s website at just the time that they were displaying Eliza’s sampler? I looked at the picture in amazement. It is things like this that give me a real feeling of physical connection to the past. I just knew I had to have it. It was my 3x great grandfather’s sister that had produced this. It should be in my family, an heirloom to be passed down the generations.
My only problem was the price that they were asking, which was a lot, several hundred pounds in fact! My husband is self employed and had been having a few cash flow problems of late, so I knew I couldn’t go splashing the cash at the moment. On the other hand I was filled with panic that someone else, a collector, would buy it and I would lose it forever.
I rang the antique dealer on Wednesday morning and said that I was interested in the sampler and would like to come and see it. I arranged to go on Friday 1st February at 1 o’clock. My husband noticed that I was shaking while I was on the phone. I did not tell her that I couldn’t actually afford it. I thought I would cross that bridge when I came to it. My husband agreed to come with me. Before we left home I said to my husband “Should I take some cash with me?” To which he replied that there was no point because the dealer was unlikely to drop the price low enough for me to be able to afford it and he had £100 on him that we might be able to leave as a deposit to secure it and we could go back another day when we had some more cash. He said we could take the camera and at least get a nice photo of it if all else failed. So we set off for Bath with my expectations low, but my hopes high.
It was a nice sunny day so the journey to Bath was quite a pleasant one and I thought that at least we would have had a nice day out. My daughter rang me on my mobile during the drive and asked where I was and what I was doing. I explained about the sampler and that we were on the way to Bath to see it but that I couldn’t actually afford it because it was such a lot of money. She listened with interest and said it was such a shame, but agreed that it was an awful lot of money.
We arrived at the antique dealer’s and were ushered into a room to view the sampler and offered a cup of coffee. We were left to examine the sampler on our own while the dealer made the coffee. I was immediately impressed with the condition of the sampler as it was better than I had expected. It had a few moth holes but they were tiny and only visible when I put on my glasses. It was in an oak frame which looked suitably old and the dealer told us that she thinks it is the original frame. The workmanship in the embroidery was really fantastic, with perfect stitches worked in the words of a prayer. I told the dealer our story, about the family history research, about this website, and the fact that I was related to Eliza. I said that I really had to have the sampler, but that I simply could not afford the price she was asking and was there any chance she could drop the price? She immediately agreed to drop the price by £50, which was still too expensive BUT . . . . ... THEN MY HUSBAND PRODUCED AN ENVELOPE FROM HIS POCKET CONTAINING ENOUGH MONEY!!!!!! He announced that he had secretly spoken to my two sons and our daughter and they had all chipped in and he had come up with the rest! I was so emotional I cried. What a fantastic day and what a fantastic family I have!
I am so relieved and delighted that I managed to get the sampler and it didn’t get sold to anyone else, particularly as the dealer said that she does a lot of business with the United States and frequently sends items through the post. I couldn’t bear to think of the sampler going out of the country, or to anyone else really. I am very lucky that it all worked out. Like I said some things are just meant to be . . . . . . . . . . .