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Published: 08 July 2017

By Andy Ross

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Queen Victoria and a quilt

In 1892 a satin quilt was presented to Queen Victoria. This seemingly simple act was  highly symbolic...

Martha Ricks was born in Tennessee, and was a slave. Her father bought the family out of slavery and they moved to the West African country of Liberia where Martha became a farmer. But it was her needlework, which gained her prizes at national fairs, that has left an amazing legacy. 

Martha decided to give the Queen a present of a quilt depicting a coffee tree, symbol of the new republic and of the potential of the country, and she spent fifty years anticipating the handover of the first diplomatic gift from Liberia. It was the Queen's anti-slavery stance that Martha admired, and both women spoke movingly about their meeting when it eventually came about. The craft of quilting became a national inspiration and when Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became Africa's first elected female president, the tradition was revived. 

You can read more of this amazing story here on the BBC News website, and listen to the programme online using the link in the story. Keep an eye open for the quilt which is missing!