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Heidelberg’s Busy Bee Signature Quilt, 1895-96

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Click on a quilt square to view a close-up of that square, and add your comments

Heidelberg’s Busy Bee Signature Quilt

Did your ancestor sign the Heidelberg quilt?

Almost 140 names are embroidered on this large signature quilt (height: 247 cm; width: 213 cm) as well as dozens of initials, decorations and place-names.

The quilt records the result of fundraising efforts by the Busy Bee group at Heidelberg’s Scots Church.

Contributors lived in various Melbourne suburbs and elsewhere in Victoria. They came from church groups, community organisations, businesses, government and through family and social networks. Many signatories were Presbyterians but some were members of the Church of England. Other Christian denominations may also be represented.

Explore and contribute!

Do you know more about the people, places and organisations represented on the quilt? We are gradually adding the results of our research. Please add your knowledge to ours, by commenting on individual squares.

How was the quilt made?

For a summary of the quilt’s history and a detailed description of the embroidery, fabrics and construction, visit the quilt’s listing with Australia’s National Quilt Register.

Our exhibition of the quilt

The exhibition at our Museum in the Old Heidelberg Court House explores five themes:

The exhibition was shortlisted and commended in the 2019 Victorian Community History Awards.

See the quilt in 2021 (subject to government health rulings)

The exhibition re-opens on Sunday 21 February for an extended season. The final day for viewing is Sunday 2 May 2021.

Our Museum and Research Centre is located in the Old Heidelberg Court House at the corner of Jika Street and Park Lane, Heidelberg. Opening hours are Sunday afternoons from 2 pm to 5 pm, except for Easter Sunday (4 April). Admission $5. Members and children under 16 free of charge.

Under the Society’s COVID-Safe Plan, numbers in the building are limited. If the exhibition is crowded, you may be asked to wait. Please bring a mask: you may be asked to wear it.

See demonstrations of lace-making (subject to government health rulings)

On occasional Sundays, the Banksia Lace Group demonstrates how the quilt’s lace insertions were crafted. The relevant dates in 2021 are 28 February, 28 March, 18 April, 25 April and 2 May.

Curator’s talks (subject to government health rulings)

The quilt was created and assembled, one square at a time. 125 years later, the quilt’s history is being researched: one name at a time, square by square. Co-curator Margaret Birtley AM speaks about the exhibition, introduces this important artefact and outlines plans for the quilt’s further research and future preservation.

As part of Women’s History Month, ‘One name at a time: the past, present and future of Heidelberg’s Busy Bee Signature Quilt’ is offered at 3 pm on Sunday 28 March 2021.

In conjunction with the Australian Heritage Festival, ‘One name at a time: the future of Heidelberg’s Busy Bee Signature Quilt’ is offered at 3 pm on three Sundays: 18 April, 25 April and 2 May 2021.

Similar talks are also available to booked groups, by appointment - preferably on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Saturdays up to 1 May.

Any questions?

If you have questions about the quilt or the Society’s Museum, please contact Heidelberg Historical Society:


This information and the photographs have been supplied by the Heidelberg Historical Society Inc.

Research into the quilt and its contributors has been conducted by members of the Heidelberg Historical Society, with kind assistance from many others (including descendants of several of the people whose names are on the quilt). The research is ongoing and we welcome help from anyone willing to volunteer their time and expertise.

Comments by visitors:

Hello, I sent this comment via an old e-mail address then thought that may be wrong so will do it through this page.
Square D 16 Miss L. Dean Point Henry.
On Susie Zada's Geelong and District website Database, an entry for
Miss L. Dean Moolap 1893.
Ref. is in Geelong Advertiser 1st July 1893 page 4. "Miss Louie Dean - Hon. Sec. Moolap Band of Hope".
Also Geelong Advertiser 19 April 1889 p.2. Moolap Wesleyan Sabbath School - Miss Louis(?) Dean.
Moolap is the rural area south of the peninsula of Point Henry, so in the 1890s the two names could have been interchangeable in some cases.
In the 1891 Women's Petition on Page 528 from Point Henry on line 8 there is L. Dean and on line 7 M. J. Dean, this could be Louisa and her sister Mary Jane. On page 527 line 1 is Mrs Dean, Moolap, this is probably their mother Ellen nee Day.
From the Victorian Birth, Deaths and Marriages index,
Louise Alice Dean born 1872, # 9647, Mool. Father Daniel Dean, Mother Ellen nee Day.
Louise Alice Dean married Wm Jas Clark 1904 # 2570
Louisa Alice Clark died 1949 # 338 Port Melb. Born at Moolap. Father Daniel Dean, Mother Ellen Day.

L. A. Clark is buried in the Methodist section of the East Geelong Cemetery.
I have noticed in the past that Methodists and Presbyterians  did have links. Many Presbyterians bought land at Ocean Grove which was a temperance settlement mainly organised by Methodists.
Finally in the Bellarine Shire rate books of 1883 Daniel Dean owned 237 acres of land and a house at Point Henry and then in 1911/1912 that land was under the names of Ellen Dean (widow) and John Dean. The Estate of Daniel Dean, Daniel had died in 1911.
In Ancestry there is a photograph of Daniel and Ellen Dean and most of their children.

Do you think it could be Miss L. Dean on square D16 ?.

Jamie Solo.


Submitted on 19th April 2021 at 06:35 PM

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