Knitted Crown Jewels top off Downend display

June 22 2022

Suzzie Belcher, Tina Jefferies, Heather Hembrough and Caroline Smith of Downend Yarn Busters with Sarah and Robin Honeywill of Fabrics Plus next to the Downend post box topper

Suzzie Belcher, Tina Jefferies, Heather Hembrough and Caroline Smith of Downend Yarn Busters with Sarah and Robin Honeywill of Fabrics Plus next to the Downend post box topper

IT has been a focal point of Downend's decorations for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.

The Crown Jewels post box topper in Badminton Road outside Downend Post Office is the result of hundreds of hours of work by the Downend Yarn Busters, a group of Downend, Mangotsfield and Kingswood residents who came together over their love of knitting and crochet.

Including painstaking reproductions of the Imperial State Crown, the Sovereign’s Orb and Sword of Offering, as well as representatives of the Foot Guards regiments.

The Downend Yarn Busters – Suzzie Belcher, Tina Jefferies, Heather Hembrough, Caroline Smith, Karen Jukes and Tanya Phillips – originally met nearly four years ago at a 'knit'n'natter' group hosted by nearby shop Fabrics Plus.

Since then the group has stayed together through thick and thin, meeting at the Duck & Willow pub when Fabrics Plus was affected by flooding, as well as over Zoom during the lockdown.

After working with Downend WI to produce a "yarn bomb" display at Christ Church Junior School last year, the Yarn Busters decided to do something special for the jubilee.

Tanya suggested post boxes and secured permission to decorate two – the other one, which has a Windsor Castle design, with guards and corgis, is in Kingswood.

They have been working on the project since March, with members knitting and crocheting the different elements before they were all put together in the week running up to the unveiling in late May, with Suzzie working until 3am the night before to ensure the finished display was ready to fix onto the postbox.

The project has taken up 20 balls of wool, each containing around 300 yards – nearly three-and-a-half miles of yarn in total.

Some parts were produced using patterns but none existed for the centrepiece crown, so the Yarn Busters studied images and details of the crown online to make sure all of the biggest jewels were right, from the Cullinan II diamond, Black Prince’s Ruby and Stuart Sapphire to the pearls under the arches, known as Queen Elizabeth’s Earrings.

Suzzie said there was some "poetic licence", as there were so many precious stones in the real crown, but they came up with "enough detail for our woolly version".

She said: "This is our way of celebrating the Queen's Platinum Jubilee; celebrating our neighbourhood, and celebrating our skills. We’ve had a lot of fun making and even more fun putting out the toppers.

"I don’t think that we shall ever forget it! 

"People have been coming to see it even after the jubilee – we've even heard that quite a few American tourists have visited it.

"It's been so lovely seeing everybody smile when they see it – that's what it's all been for."

The toppers are also raising money for Children’s Hospice South West, via an online donation page which can be reached using a QR code on the postbox, enabling people with smartphones to make an instant donation.

The page can also be reached at justgiving.com/fundraising/Mrs-Susan-Belcher1.

The Yarn Busters hope to keep the toppers up until the end of July. Despite some early attempts to remove them, both remained intact as the Voice went to press.