When 92-year-old great-grandmother Margaret Seaman set out to create a “knitted Sandringham”, she thought it would simply keep her busy and raise a bit of money for charity.
She could never have imagined that not only would it go on display at the Queen’s Norfolk residence, but also that she would get to show it to Her Majesty in person.
Mrs Seaman, who spent two years working on the woolly royal residence, knitting up to 15 hours a day, told The Telegraph that “never in her wildest dreams” did she think she would meet the Queen.
She was taken aback when, as she was setting up her creation in the ballroom at Sandringham House on Saturday, she realised someone had joined her.
“I was just unpacking it all, there were boxes all over the floor, and then I saw somebody standing beside me,” she said.
“I saw her dress and I looked up and it was her. It was the most magic moment.”
The Queen, 95, who happened to be at Sandringham for the weekend, had heard about the project and popped in for a private viewing.
Mrs Seaman said it was “absolutely wonderful” to meet her and that the monarch had appeared delighted with her efforts and “very interested” in her creation.
She had begun the intricate project in 2019 to raise money for local hospitals, but it took off during lockdown, when she ended up spending all of her days, and even some nights, knitting.
The centrepiece is an 18ft long, 6ft high Sandringham House featuring intricate architecture, chimneys and windows surrounded by knitted trees.
Other landmarks from the Queen’s estate are featured, including St Mary Magdalene Church, where the monarchy attend the Christmas Day service, and there are even knitted members of the Royal family.
Mrs Seaman, from Great Yarmouth, had visited the estate to take sketches and photographs to aid her work and staff kept in touch with her throughout.
The end result was so impressive, they suggested it go on public display in the Sandringham House ballroom as a “knitting tribute” to her handiwork and dedication.
Mrs Seaman added: “I started it two years ago and knitted the main house the first year, and then the second year while we were in lockdown, I did the remaining buildings, the church and the stables and the museum.
“Although we were in lockdown, I was never bored, or never wished I could go out or anything. I was quite happy at home knitting Sandringham. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
“I live with my daughter since I lost my husband and I knit all day. She does everything else and looks after me and does all the cooking – and I knit between 12 and 15 hours a day.”
Mrs Seaman’s creation was originally available to view as a work in progress at The Forum in Norwich and has raised about £3,000 in donations from those impressed by the pensioner’s efforts.
The knitter is fundraising through a JustGiving page for projects at three Norfolk hospitals, including a dedicated breast cancer unit at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, a maternity bereavement suite at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, and a community improvement project at the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston-on-Sea.
Visitors to Sandringham will be able to make a donation to the projects and the knitted display forms part of a visit to Sandringham House until October 14.
As for whether she might now turn her hand to knitting Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle? “Now that would be a challenge,” Mrs Seaman chuckled.