Signature Tablecloth; Mary Jane Doust; 1910-1919


Don Dorrigo and Guy Fawkes Historical Society Museum


Signature Tablecloth

About this object

This unique white tablecloth is embroidered with the names of 150 people associated with the Methodist Church in Dorrigo from 1910 to 1918. It is made from 16 fine linen squares, which appear to be serviettes, joined together by lace insertions. The cloth includes the names of Methodist pastors and an Honour Roll of 41 men associated with these families who enlisted in the First World War. Many of these families and their descendants still live in the Dorrigo area.

The tablecloth was made and embroidered by Mary Jane Doust, nee Short, [1863 - 1962] one of Dorrigo’s early white settlers who lived with her husband Reuben on their farm “Glendon” at Little Plain, later known as North Dorrigo. This area was the first area settled in The Don Dorrigo Scrub. Mary Jane, known as Minnie, was a devout Methodist. When they first settled in the area Church services were held in the Doust’s slab home and later Minnie played the church organ.

Tablecloths like this one, show the sewing, embroidery and design skills of its maker. This cloth has been carefully designed into four sections of four squares each. Each section has an embroidered heading underlined in chain stitch and all names are embroidered in stem stitch. Each linen square has mitred corners with drawn thread borders.

This tablecloth evidences the resourcefulness of rural women such as Minnie Doust who set about raising the necessary funds to purchase an organ for the North Dorrigo Methodist Church by encouraging the Methodist community to pay for their names to be embroidered on the cloth. After completion the cloth was auctioned to raise further funds.

Needlework has always been a popular and practical pursuit for women. It has provided a creative outlet and a practical one as demonstrated by Minnie Doust in using her needlework skills to raise money for her church. The tablecloth resonates with the local community and featured at the 110 year celebration of the Dorrigo Methodist Church in 2016.

The tablecloth now provides an enduring record of the families associated with the Methodist Church in the Dorrigo area and the young men who served their country and community during World War 1. Most of all, this cloth reflects the ingenuity and efforts of Minnie Doust in using materials on hand and her needlework skills to ‘crowd fund’ the purchase of a church organ for the Methodist community on the Dorrigo plateau.

Ruth Holmes
27 August 2017


Mary Jane Doust

Date Made


Place Made


Medium and Materials

Linen, cotton, lace


1530mm L, 1530mm W

Credit Line

Donors: Chrissie and Alan Cummins

Copyright Licence  

All rights reserved


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