Joined by a thread…… What links the following pictures?
Insert images August 24 1572 St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, France. Hand loom Spitalfields Thorpe le Soken Parish Church, Essex. A weaving loom Spitalfields London
Silk ties The wedding dress of the late Princess Diana Courtauld’s Mill Halstead, Essex Image - wedding photo showing silk dress
Where does the link begin? When? Medieval Period and beyond c.1200-1750 Where? North Essex and South Suffolk, England. What was happening? Development of woollen cloth industry. By 1750 8000 weavers and 55000 spinners (mostly women) were employed.
The huge profits made by Suffolk’s woollen industry helped pay for magnificent ‘wool churches’ such as at Lavenham, Long Melford and Stoke by Nayland.
However……. …… by the late 1700s woollen cloth manufacturing had moved into Yorkshire. Towns such as Bradford and Halifax were experiencing an Industrial Revolution. Insert picture of Industrial Towns - Bradford, Halifax etc In Suffolk and Essex the wool towns and villages fell into decline, throwing many people out of work and into poverty.
The French connection….. Image: August 24 1572 St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, France. When? August 24 1572. St Bartholomew’s Day. Where? France. What was happening? Persecution and massacre of French Protestants known as Huguenots. In one week 100,000 had perished. ‘Rivers of France were so filled with corpses, for many months no fish were eaten. In the valley of the Loire, wolves came down from the hills to feed upon the decaying bodies of Frenchmen’.
A short lived peace. For a time King Henry IV gave the Huguenots a brief respite by issuing the Treaty of Nantes. They were able to prosper. However, following the king’s assassination by a Jesuit priest, things were about to turn for the worse…… Image Portrait of King Henry IV of France
In 1685 the persecution began again and this time over one million Huguenots left France. Images - Huguenots, sailing ship, map of France and map of New Carolina/New World
By 1690 around 80,000 Huguenots had settled in England. 25,000 had settled in Spitalfields and other parts of east London. They brought silk weaving skills with them. Within 10 years the London silk industry had increased production tenfold. Images - Handloom, Huguenots in Spitalfields, man working at a handloom Others moved into the countryside and integrated into local communities………
The Huguenot’s in Essex: Documentary SourcesHow many French names can you spot?
The move to East Anglia…. During the 18th century and into the early years of the 19th century wages in London began to rise so many silk merchants looked to Essex and Suffolk where there were plenty of unemployed weavers and spinners willing to work for lower wages. Many workers already had experience in the silk industry. Map of Essex and Suffolk showing places associated with the 19th century silk industry
Samuel Courtauld Samuel Courtauld (1793-22 March 1881) was an American-born industrialist and Unitarian, chiefly remembered as the driving force behind the early 19th century growth of the Courtauld textile business in England. The Courtauld family were descendants of Huguenots (French Protestant) refugees who ran a successful business in London as gold and silversmiths. Samuel’s father George moved to America in the late 18th century before returning to England and then to Sudbury. George later went back and settled in America. Source: Wikipedia Photograph of Samuel Courtauld
Courtauld’s 1809 mill at Braintree Halstead Mill
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries the smaller silk mills began to close . Images of Courtauld’s Mills in Pebmarsh and Panfield Lane The industry began to consolidate in fewer centres.
Sudbury: The centre of England’s silk weaving industry today Gainsborough Silks Former silk weavers’ cottages Vanner’s Silks