LACE TOWNS ENGLAND

During the nineteenth century the machine-made lace industry developed, in particular in the midlands of England and the northeast of France. The machines were initially set up in houses and small buildings in villages and towns around Nottingham and Leicester in England and Calais and Lille in France. Later they were established in greater numbers in purpose-built factories.

When our lacemaker families left England for France in the 1820s, 30s and 40s, lacemaking was a cottage-based industry. The large factories were to come later.

If you have an appropriate image of a building, village or town where your lacemaking ancestors lived or worked, please contact us.

NOTTINGHAM AND ENVIRONS

Nottingham  Town

Nottingham Lace Market Area

The lace industry in Nottingham grew up in the east and south east of the town centred on the Church of St Mary. Many of our lacemakers worked and lived in the area bounded by Goose Gate in the north, Fletcher Gate to the west, Narrow Marsh (later Red Lion Street) and Leen Side along the canal on the south.

Religion

Churches - St Mary's was the parish church for the lace district with St Peter's and St Nicholas' along the district's western edge. Many of our lacemakers were baptised, or married or buried at these establishment churches.

However, the lacemakers were working people of simple means and life. They were attracted to the tenets of the nonconformists who included them in their regular prayer meetings and social gatherings. They met in chapels such as the Hockley Chapel in Goose gate and the later Parliament Street Chapel.

St Peter's Church

St Nicholas' Church

Houses

The lacemakers often worked where they and their family lived. These were detached cottages at first but with more and more families moving to the town, they were replaced by narrow but tall terraces. The terraces were built back-to-back along the streets and down the narrow lanes that ran off them with a common paved yard between the buildings and off which the communal toilets were built.

The family lived in the lower levels where the women worked spinning and sewing while the men set up their machines on the upper floor where enlarged windows provided much-needed natural light.

A Nottingham Cottage

Canal and Broad Street

Bridlesmith Gate

Houses on Narrow Marsh

Bridlesmith Gate

Goose Fair

An occasion to break from the everyday work, for fun, to meet friends and relatives, to buy and sell goods and produce and to exchange ideas, thoughts and beliefs.

Union Workhouse - York Street

It was the threat of possible confinement in a workhouse if the lacemakers returned to England that contributed to the idea to migrate to the Australian Colonies in 1848.

Nottingham Environs

The lace industry beginnings were in the villages and hamlets in the countryside around Nottingham rather than in the town. Many of our lacemaker families began their work with lace machines in cottages at villages close to Nottingham such as Lenton, Radford, Basford and Beeston as well as further afield at Kimberley, Strelly, Arnold and East Leake.

Arnold - St Mary's Church

It was in Arnold in 1811 where stocking knitters rioted and so began the Luddite movement of frame breaking.

East Leake - St Mary's Church

As with other places, Arnold and East Leake had  Wesleyan Methodist chapels for the non-conformists to meet in.

East Leake - Cottages

In England in the early 1800s, most of the knitting frames were located in the midland counties of Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. Of these, only 10 to 20% were set up in Nottingham and Leicester. The rest were in the houses and cottages of the surrounding villages and hamlets.

Birch Row - Radford

Home to the Branson Family in 1848

Plumbers office and yard in 1996

The cottage is behind Home Farm and the Black Horse pub in Caythorpe. Both belonged to Robert Branson, brother of William Branson (Agincourt).

Their father John Branson worked in the cottage's upstairs workshop and it is assumed this was a family home.

Caythorpe Nottinghamshire

Branson House

Watercolour of the interior of the upstairs workshop in the Branson Cottage painted by William Hallam Pegg (1864-1946).

 

Pegg was a Nottingham-based designer of hand and machine made lace.

The image shows a laceworker sitting at his machine at the window with the natural light coming across his shoulder and a spinning wheel behind him.

LEICESTER AND ENVIRONS

Image above with the Royal Oak and White Horse Hotels is little changed today.

Quorn, Leicestershire

High Street

DOVER, KENT

St Mary the Virgin Church

Many of the lacemakers living in Calais and St Pierre sailed on the packet boat across to Dover to be married in this church or in nearby St James.

DEVON

Heathcoat Factory Barnstaple 

Factory opened in 1822 by John and Thomas Heathcoat.

Heathcoat Factory Tiverton c 1900

Factory opened c1817

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