11 November 2013

Honiton Lace at Grays

Honiton Lace has been made in Devon in South West England since the 16th Century and has become world famous for its intricate and delicate designs.

Honiton Lace is a type of hand-made bobbin lace.  It is made with hundreds of tiny pins set out in the desired pattern on a pillow.  The lace-makers then use wooden or ivory lace bobbins to weave thread around the pins to create the lace.  The finest lace would have been made by exceptionally skilled craftsmen and would have taken months to complete.

Demonstration of Honiton lace making. Image via Anguskirk on flickr
Due to the complex and time consuming process of making lace it was highly valued and at one point more expensive than gold.  Honiton lace was used to adorn clothing and was made in the form of collars, trim, bonnets, handkerchiefs and wedding veils. 

Only the very wealthy and Royalty could afford to buy the lace.  Queen Victoria revived the Honiton lace industry in 1840 by using it for her wedding dress and by commissioning the Royal christening gown for her first child Princess Victoria.

Prince George in the replica gown made with Honiton Lace. Photo credit: Hello Magazine
Since then the same christening gown has been past down from generation to generation and all the Royal children have worn the gown when they were christened. This included the current Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles and Princes Harry and William. Click here for a gallery of Royal christenings.

As the gown is now almost 200 years old and extremely delicate a replica of the original has been remade using the same materials and techniques which include Honiton lace and fine embroidery.  Prince George wore this new gown when he was christened last month on the 23rd October.

Honiton lace poppy and bryony design. Image from The Textile Blog.
Honiton lace is not made commercially anymore.  There is still a Honiton Lace shop in Honiton, Devon as well as a museum.  Grays dealer Diane Harby stocks Honiton lace in her shop at Grays.  Diane first started collecting lace as a hobby. As her knowledge and love of the subject grew her lace collection has expanded into a full time business.  She has clients from all over the world and stocks a variety of hand-worked and machined lace made both in the UK and abroad from places such as France and Italy.

Diane Harby - Stand 148 at Grays
Tel: 020 7629 5130

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