• Letter written by Trude Owen containing her short biography, 13 February 1995

  • View map

Content can be downloaded for non-commercial purposes, such as for personal use or in educational resources.
For commercial purposes please contact the copyright holder directly.
Read more about the The Creative Archive Licence.

Image 1:Download link to the full resolution of image number 1
full resolution of image 1


Letter written by Trude Owen and addressed to Lorraine on 13 February 1995.

In this letter Trude provides some details about her work that Lorraine requested at an earlier date. Along with describing the practical details of how she managed to make a career out of commissioned hand embroidery: how she took a course that taught gold ceremonial embroidery at the Royal School of Needlework in the early 1970s, Trude also offers some more personal insights into how she got there.

She stresses the importance of luck above all else as it gave her the chance to take the course in the first place. She also explains her personal dislike of the look of the machine embroidery that she saw in many synagogues: she found it extremely repetitive. It was due to this that Trude decided to never repeat any of her designs so as to keep them unique looking. This may also have been the reason for her preference to encourage other needlewomen without influencing their designs.

She also reveals the personal significance of how wide reaching her work is: one of her nieces in London would have fun spotting her designs in the various synagogues that she visited for weddings and Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.

By the time she wrote this letter Trude had made 26 Torah curtains and was awaiting the approval of the design for her 27th.

Trude Owen (1926-2003) was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia to observant Jewish parents. Having heard many of his speeches on the radio, Trude's father Hans anticipated danger from Adolf Hitler in 1938 and began to plan a move of his whole family to south Wales where he had the opportunity to set up a factory due to the South Wales Development Agency.

While twelve-year old Trude and her older sister fifteen-year old Ilse were able to take the trip from Nazi Germany to Britain in early 1939, their mother Hilda was almost left behind in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. Hans had to claim that one of their daughters was seriously ill to convince the German authorities to let her leave for the United Kingdom.

Trude first discovered her skill at textile production due to her mother's own ability as a needlewoman and her encouragement that Trude and her sister busy themselves with hobbies. Her parents' acquisition of an embroidery factory in Treforest also likely fuelled her interest. When she was nearing forty, she took a ten-week needlework course which allowed her to perfect her ability. Trude went on to make over twenty-five curtains for Arks in Synagogues including the one in the Cardiff Reform Synagogue, of which she was a member.

Depository: Glamorgan Archives.

Comments (0)

You must be logged in to leave a comment