Royal Artillery School, Gibraltar, 1870
The majority of samplers made at schools in England and the United States date prior to about 1840 when the curriculum changed and needlework was no longer considered a priority. There are exceptions, of course, and these frequently were made at schools that were actually or theoretically outside of the mainstream. We enjoy finding these examples and offer this handsome and neatly ordered sampler made in 1870 in Gibraltar at the Royal Artillery School. It was worked by the twelve year old daughter of an artillery expert who spent his life in the British Army. This British Overseas Territory was ceded to Britain "in perpetuity" under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. Over the years, under the direction of the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers, the British turned this strategic location into a fortress in use to this day.
Rosana Blackmore was the daughter of a heavy artillery expert, Master Gunner Richard Blackmore, who was stationed for over nine years on the military base at Gibraltar. His wife was Magdalena (Bald) Blackmore and their daughter, Rosana, was born on March 4, 1858; her baptism one month later was performed at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Gibraltar. The British Army was, in effect, a family business with wives and children stationed and living with the men. By this time the Army provided excellent schools, in part to educate the sons of soldiers to follow in their fathers’ careers.
The records of the National Archives of Great Britain provide excellent documentation and copies of this information accompany the sampler. Master Gunner Blackmore received the prestigious Victorian Army Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, awarded only to those who provided outstanding service. In 1873, Blackmore was transferred to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada and again his family accompanied him. Rosana married William Barnes in Halifax in 1879.
The instructress who taught Rosana was likely a British schoolteacher who continued the traditions of earlier generations; the verse stitched was an 18th century hymn found on other British samplers and the border evokes earlier needlework, as well.The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in a period walnut frame.