The George Müller Foundation and the Catherine Archer Sampler

By Jane Greenoff

I first heard of the George Müller Foundation when I became the proud owner of the sampler shown here. Catherine Archer, an orphan, stitched this sampler while she was living at Ashley Down Orphanage, one of the Müller orphanages in Bristol, UK.

Catherine Archer Sampler

George Müller was born in 1805 in Prussia (now Germany). By his own admission he was a liar and a thief who stole from his family and friends. His heavy reliance on alcohol eventually caught up with him and he spent time in prison. However, in November 1825 he was converted to the Christian faith and his life took a completely new track.

In 1829 Müller travelled to England to work as a missionary, and it was in England that he started his extraordinary work amongst the orphaned children of Bristol. In 1836, Müller opened his first house for thirty girls and over the next thirty-five years, he opened five orphanages on Ashley Down, Bristol, housing more than 2,000 children altogether.

All Müller children were smartly dressed, well fed and educated. (Müller was accused of robbing the mills by educating the poor above their station.) Boys stayed in the orphanages until they were fourteen, girls until they were seventeen. When they left the orphanage all children were found employment, and given clothing and a Bible.

Catherine's original sampler was worked on ecru non-evenweave linen in one strand of red thread. The design was worked over one thread of the fabric: equivalent to 45 stitches to the inch! This is even more amazing when you consider that Catherine had no electric light or magnifier.