One name at a time: the past, present and future of Heidelberg's Busy Bee Signature Quilt

Saturday, March 14, 2020 at 02:45 PM


Old Heidelberg Court House
Corner Jika Street and Park Lane
Heidelberg, VIC 3084
Google map and directions

Event contact

Heidelberg Historical Society

(03) 9455 2130

Central square of the Busy Bee quilt

In 2018, the Heidelberg Historical Society received by donation a Signature Quilt that was created in 1895-96 by the Busy Bees, a group of eight women who were members of the congregation of Heidelberg’s Scots Church. Their names are embroidered in the corners of the quilt's large central square (above).

The quilt project raised funds for the church. Constructed from 213 squares of cotton fabric, the quit is decorated with hand-made lace and embroidery, and framed by a substantial embroidered frill.

The quilt's past involved contributions by about 150 people from many parts of Melbourne and a lengthy sojourn in New Zealand.

Its present includes listing with the National Quilt Register and commendation at the Victorian Community History Awards.

Its future requires ongoing research into the 139 names that are legible on the squares, plus careful preservation by the Society.

This talk by Margaret Birtley will share insights gained from studying the quilt and its people, one name at a time.

An exhibition about the quilt is open for viewing from 2 pm to 4 pm. The talk will start at 2.45 pm.

Admission charges apply:

Adults $5
Children under 16 (and members of Heidelberg Historical Society) free

Click HERE to explore the quilt online.


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The History Council of Victoria Incorporated (HCV) is the peak body for history in the Australian state of Victoria. Its vision is to connect Victorians with history and to inspire engagement with the past, their identity and the world today. The HCV champions the work of historians and the value of history. It recognises that history can be written about any place, any person, any period. The HCV advocates why history matters.

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The HCV was formed as an advisory body in 2001 and incorporated in 2003. It comprises representatives from cultural and educational institutions and heritage bodies; history teachers and curriculum advisors; academic and professional historians; and local, Indigenous, community and specialist history organisations.

As the peak body for history, the HCV has both ‘outward-looking’ roles (including advocacy and representation to government and the wider community, consultation, community education, and networking with allied interest groups) and ‘inward-looking’ roles (including member support, information dissemination, and networking between members).



The History Council of Victoria acknowledges the State Library of Victoria and the Public Record Office Victoria for supply of the archival images that appear on this website.

We acknowledge the National Film and Sound Archive for the right to use of the video footage on the home page, titled "Melbourne: Life in Australia (1966)".

Image credits

  • Italian sailors on ship at Port Melbourne 1938, Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria
  • Chinese procession in Collins near Elizabeth Street 1901, Harvie & Sutcliffe, photographers, State Library of Victoria
  • People’s homes, Aboriginal station Coranderrk 1878, Fred Kruger Photographer, State Library of Victoria
  • Chinese nurses at Children’s Hospital under scholarship 1947, Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria
  • Ladies physical culture class VRI Melbourne c1931, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12903/P0001, 011/02
  • Melbourne Cup, Derby and Oaks Day, Flemington Racecourse 1936, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12903/P0001/4802, 372/30
  • Flinders Street viaduct at foot of Market Street with advertisement for McRobertson’s Chocolate on bridge, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12800/P0003, ADV 1342