For Embroidery Expertise

Certificated Courses

Why study at the RSN?

“I chose to study at the RSN as it has the leading reputation in the United Kingdom and abroad, for the highest standard of work and most diverse embroidery techniques. Having started with the summer day classes in 2001, I decided to undertake the Certificated Course which although challenging, is also enormously creative.”

 Kristina Graham, Buckinghamshire, UK


How I heard about the course

“I chose this course after visiting the Craft Fair at the Olympia in 2004. While walking round the stands I came upon the Royal School of Needlework and I was fascinated by your work. The piece that really caught my eye was the silk shading of the dog. Being an animal lover I couldn't believe how realistic it was.  I took all the information that was at the show back to Spain with me and was really surprised that such a school as yours existed. I read and reread all your courses available and the summer option was the best one for me. Had I been younger I would have done the Apprenticeship.


This year I do my final course -canvas work - and am looking forward to it. Before I started doing this RSN course I had never worked with gold thread, done any silk shading or didn't even know what Jacobean was, so, not only have you taught me new skills but also introduced me into a whole new world of embroidery. I hope to continue perfecting my newly learnt skills - especially silk shading and black work - and be a regular visitor to Hampton Court every year.


I have to thank you all for you patience as I know we can be quite difficult at times, especially when we all want attention at the same time, and  I would also encourage everyone who has an interest in embroidery to give it a go. It is so rewarding and becomes an unforgettable experience.”

Gillian Gonzales, Navarra, Spain


What level of experience do I need?

“I would recommend the RSN to anyone who has done either a little or a lot of needlework.  The first class teachers enable even a novice to complete work to a very high standard and who wouldn't want to work in such beautiful and prestigious surroundings.  I wish I had known about the RSN when I was younger because I would certainly have liked to have applied for the Apprenticeship.   I selected the 8 week Certificated programme because it was the better option for me as I was coming from Canada.  I was able to learn four subjects as well as being introduced to many, many others.  The RSN taught me where to look for ideas and to step outside the box when selecting materials.  I will certainly return for other classes and I always check out the website for upcoming events.”

Gillian Hewitt, New Westminster, Canada


 What about the RSN’s technical expertise?

“After years of being an enthusiastic, but self taught amateur, I discovered the Certificated Course and only wish I had done so earlier! It is completely amazing to be taught professionally and to know that if a skill is taught in a particular way, it is because it hasn’t been bettered in hundreds of years of practice! Also the tips we pick up for repairing work are really useful. It is a complete antidote to the consumer society”.

Catherine Shilston, East Sussex, UK


What if I live some distance away?

“My initial reaction was to think that my embroidery was not up to RSN standards but the aim of the course is to teach, and with the guidance of experienced tutors, this makes it possible to achieve!  The work is challenging but help is always available as classes are small with everyone working at their own pace.  As I live some distance from Hampton Court Palace I have chosen to spend two consecutive days at the RSN every two weeks and this gives me time to do stitching at home between the sessions. 


A new embroidery shop has recently opened near where I live and I have been asked to help promote embroidery there.  Embroidery gives me such personal pleasure and the Certificated Course has enabled me to share this with others.”

 Michael Bingham, Isle of Wight, UK


 What about the RSN teaching and design resources?

“I had been on embroidery courses for some years and when my teacher retired and I wanting to continue.  I found the RSN offered the best teaching.  I signed up for one day a week on a year’s Certificated Course.  The teaching was excellent and the use of the library a great help and gave food for thought with new projects.  Even though travelling had to start very early I really looked foreword to going and the day went too quickly.”

 Dorothy Sargent, Kent, UK


 I’m from Japan and my husband is in the UK on business

“I was given the opportunity to live in London as my husband was here on business.

I knew about the RSN as it is very popular in Japan.   I was very worried about my understanding of English but I didn’t need to - the teachers and staff are so kind and helpful.  My experience on the Summer Certificated Course helped me to meet many international classmates and I am still in contact with these friends who love embroidery too.  The teachers always give you the appropriate teaching for your personal level and requirements. 

 Now I am back in Japan I am dreaming of an opportunity to show Japanese people how wonderful English embroidery is.  If possible, I want to return to the RSN and study embroidery more.”

 Noriko Ando, Tokyo, Japan


I already work part-time

“I really wanted to take my embroidery skills to the next level.  If I was going to achieve this then the Royal School of Needlework was the place to do it.  What I love about the RSN and its staff is their flexible and friendly approach to everything, especially as I already work part-time.  Sometimes it is hard to fit your workload and private life around taking on a course, but with the help and encouragement from Gill Holdsworth, I attend my class on a Monday whenever possible.

 The teachers are all exceptionally skilled and so patient and dedicated in their approach. Their teaching skills are very subtle and through a quiet, steady and gradual process they lead you through a programme after which you produce pieces of work which surprise and delight!”

 Lianne Hart, Kent, UK  


 A once in a life time experience

“Attending the Certificated Course at Hampton Court Palace is exhilarating.  You are surrounded by fellow stitchers from around the world, history from so many time frames, and some of the best tutors available. This is a "once in a lifetime" experience for the serious stitcher.”

 Barbara Jackson, Memphis, USA


My embroidery career in Australia has really benefited from my RSN experience

“In 1999, I was looking towards a career change after years of working as a Visual Arts teacher in Senior Colleges in Sydney, Australia. I had always been supremely interested in textiles, especially those that are embellished with embroidery and beading, and in fashion.  I booked to do the Certificated Course in 2000-2001.

 It was a sensational year in so many ways and to be actually working and studying in a building that was centuries old and so significant in the history of England never ceased to amaze me! Our group of seven gelled and as a result, friendships formed which have been maintained to this day. However, it was the calibre of the tutors that made this year a very valuable one for me. We had so much personal attention, and through them I achieved a high level of competency in so many fields of embroidery, especially in Goldwork and Silk Shading. I decided I would try to pursue a career in designing and embroidery on my return to Australia.

 I now tutor in Goldwork at the Embroiderers’ Guild of N.S.W. and run workshops for embroidery businesses in Sydney. Education conveners of interstate Embroidery Guilds are now booking me up for workshops as far ahead as 2009!  I have published several projects for Express Publications in Australia, but the greatest achievement since doing the Certificated Course is to be the author of The Art of Goldwork Embroidery, published by Sally Milner Publishing, Australia. It will arrive in the Northern Hemisphere after July 2007. I have acknowledged in my book, that I owe my success in my new career to the RSN and its tutors.”

 Mary Brown, Sydney, Australia


 My RSN training helps with my volunteer work

“I have always enjoyed embroidery but until my children were grown up I had little time for it.  Some years later I was left a legacy and used this to pursue my hobby.  I gave up nursing completely and September 1999 saw me driving to Hampton Court twice a week for my first year on the Certificated Course.  I loved every moment of it and I returned for the following year to master further techniques.

The staff and the atmosphere at the RSN are quite unique.  I loved to arrive early to get work done before the class started.  It’s hard to explain, but it’s a lovely place to feel part of and I feel privileged to have been taught by so many extremely talented and friendly people.

 Due to my time on the Certificated Course I feel much happier about stitching back gold threads on ancient vestments etc (I am one of the stitching volunteers at Canterbury Cathedral).   I try to advise on not doing things like using glue or marker pens which happened before I joined this group of enthusiastic volunteers!”

 Ursula Hodson, Kent, UK


Tutors’ Comments

 “I started teaching on the Certificated Course after completing my RSN Apprenticeship in August 2006.  It’s a great responsibility to pass on the technical skills I have learnt over the three years and so rewarding to see students’ finished work on display.  The results reflect on the tutor! 

 As for the ideal CC student – someone who is eager to develop their own embroidery; willing to discuss ideas beyond their individual comfort zones and keen to experiment with design.   I particularly enjoy the variety of cultures, experiences and backgrounds the students bring to the course.”

Sarah Homfray, RSN Apprentice 2003-2006