Saturday, February 2, 2019

Stars in Her Crown #5: Helena, Princess Christian

Block #5 Helena by Mark Lauer

Princess Helena Augusta Victoria (1846-1923)
Her parents called her Lenchen. She was the fifth child
and the third daughter, the middle child.

The Queen described her in inimitable Victoria fashion: She “does not improve in looks and has great difficulty with her figure and [lacks] calm, quiet, graceful manners.” --- in other words she had her mother's figure and behaved too much like brother Bertie.

With sister Louise, 2 years younger, on the left, 
and perhaps a piece of embroidery and pattern.
Both were artists with Helena focusing on watercolors and needlework.

Helena was the first president of the School of Art Needlework, founded in 1872, later the Royal School of Needlework. The organization had two goals, reviving "an almost lost art" (or at least producing designs to suit Arts & Crafts taste) and providing work for gentlewomen in reduced circumstances.

In 1903 Princess Helena opened a new building for the Royal School,
a project for which she raised many pounds.

Helena's sister Louise designed these curtains for the
Manchester Town Hall to be appliqued and embroidered by 
needlewomen at the Royal School of Needlework.

Denniele Bohannon's quilt is finished. Here are block 1,2,4 &5 on point.
The quilting is by Sue Daurio.

Helena and Danish Prince Christian of 
Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderfurg-Augustenburg wed in 1866 

Always the matchmaker, the widowed Queen sought a husband for Helena who was willing and able to live in London, as Victoria felt she must have Lenchen nearby to assist her. "I could not give her up without sinking under the weight of my desolation." The amiable, penniless Christian was Lechen's choice and the union seems to have been happy. Married 51 years they had six children, two who died in infancy.

Did the territories of Schleswig-Holstein (white on the map here)
belong to Denmark to the north or Germany (purple) to the south? 
NOT dinner table conversation at Windsor.

Christian and his sister-in-law Alexandra the Princess of Wales had political differences over Danish/German border disputes. Danish Princess Alexandra's husband Bertie refused the invitation to their wedding but Alice, family peacemaker, persuaded the Waleses to attend. The Christians and the Waleses continued at odds throughout their lives. As a lady of the court described it: "Matters were sometimes very difficult and not always pleasant."

Helena, the ultimate Edwardian even if not quite on 
speaking terms with King Edward

Helena was active in charity work, a founding member of the British Red Cross and President of the Royal British Nurses’ Association until Queen Alexandra dismissed her. (Another battle in the Schleswig-Holstein dispute???) She lived to be 77 years old.

The Block

The larger pattern is for a 12" Block; the smaller for an 8" Block.

To Print:
Create a word file or an empty JPG file.
Click on the image above.
Right click on it and save it to your file.
Print that file 8-1/2" x 11". Check to be sure the inch square box measures 1".

You'll need 4 copies if you are going to piece it over paper foundations.

The block is constructed in triangles—-Triangles are flipped and pieced into squares, four to a block. Each pattern includes paper foundations for 8” & 12” blocks, which you can also use for template piecing. Add a 1/4” seam allowance when you cut the fabric using the templates.

In Block #5 the triangles are identical except four are flipped over. And those four have a different color for Points A & B, two shades of purple, two shades of blue in the sketch.

Block #4 Helena by Becky Brown
[Note Becky's alterations to the pattern: she turned this center triangle around.]

Textile of the Week

Berlinwork portrait of the Queen, unfinished

Berlin work was a mid-19th-century craze. We call it needlepoint. This counted stitching on a canvas done with German wools was frowned upon by art needleworkers. Helena's embroidery school was founded in part to provide alternative patterns for different styles of stitching.

The Queen was popular subject matter.

As was Dash, her pet when she was crowned.

The young Queen also had a parrot.

 Victoria as a Princess

Read a Book a Week:
Victoria's Daughters by Jerrold M. Packard


  1. It's so interesting to have a genealogy lesson with the pattern. I love learning these kinds of stories. Thank you for all your research.

  2. Susan, I love them too. It's like a giant royal soap opera. My favorite.

  3. Amazing Post Barbara. Thanks for letting us know the history of Princess Helena. Good to read about princess in a beautiful and artistic way.

  4. Love your post Barbara. Intertaining and educational with a great quilt block. A trifecta!

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