Cuckfield vicar’s 1,600ft Narnia tapestry

Reverend Michael Maine holding the Narnia tapestry Pic Steve Robards SUS-150604-141846001
Reverend Michael Maine holding the Narnia tapestry Pic Steve Robards SUS-150604-141846001
  • Reverend Michael Maine owns a tapestry which was once the longest made by one person
  • It was made by great niece of prime minister Gladstone, Margaret Pollard
  • The vicar has had a ‘great’ time since joining Holy Trinity Church
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A reverend owns an ‘extraordinary’ tapestry which was once the longest in the world made by one person.

The Narnia Tapestry is longer than the Bayeux Taestry at 1,600 feet.

It took eight or ten years. She must have been well into her 80s when she finished it, it’s extraordinary

It’s owned by reverend Michael Maine, vicar at Holy Trinity Church, Cuckfield, who was gifted the embroidery by Margaret Pollard, the great niece of former prime minister William Gladstone.

“It was made for me by a remarkable woman, she was a brilliant woman,” reverend Maine said.

“She would draw a picture a day. It took eight or ten years. She must have been well into her 80s when she finished it, it’s extraordinary.”

Margaret exchanged letters with C. S. Lewis, author of the Narnia books, for many years.

“But she had never read the book,” the vicar explained.

“I loved the book, but I don’t know how we came up with the idea. She started the embroidery and it just got longer and longer. I was in my 20s before she finished it!

“It got as long as the Bayeux Tapestry, and then it overtook that. I don’t know whether it still is but it was in the Guinness Book of Records, and it was for many many years.”

The tapestry features embroideries which tells the story of the Narnia books.

“She was an artist as much as anything. I’m fortunate to have it,” he added.

Margaret was the first woman at Cambridge to get a double first in oriental languages, and was a ‘pioneer’, according to Reverend Maine.

“She translated for trawlers in Russia, and wrote books. She was a great scholar,” he added.

The vicar’s music recordings are regularly broadcasted on Radio 2’s The Organist Entertains, and he is known in the Netherlands as the ‘singing organist’.

He met Margaret through their common interest, as she was an organist at a church in Cornwall.

The vicar continued: “She was brilliant, she spoke many languages and had an extraordinary life. She had a fantastic mind, speaking with her was almost like a university education. She was the first woman in the history of Cambridge to get a double first in oriental languages.”

Margaret spoke Russian, German, French and Swahili.

Reverend Maine, who joined Holy Trinity on February 26, said his time at the church has been ‘great’.

Margaret was born in 1903, and died in 1996.

She lived in Cornwall for much of her life.She studied Sanskrit, wrote poetry, particularly in the Cornish language.

Margaret was a member of the secret Ferguson’s Gang, which supported the National Trust.

Reverend Maine continued: “She bought and gave many acres of coastal land in Cornwall to the National Trust.

“She also helped to resurrect the Cornish language and wrote plays and poems in the language as well as being the harpist to the Cornish Gorsedd for many years.

“When I met her, she had given away most of her wealth and lived in a tiny cottage in Truro.Some people make a huge difference to our lives - she certainly did to mine. I was fortunate to have known her. We remained great friends until her death.”