huguenots of spitalfields
huguenots of spitalfields
huguenots of spitalfields
huguenots of spitalfields
huguenots of spitalfields
huguenots of spitalfields

Below is a list of town where the Huguenots Settled

St Annes Chapel BarnstapleThe first Huguenot refugees to arrive in Barnstaple, came in 1685; the year the Edict of Nantes was revoked. The way in which the town responded to the new arrivals is recorded in the diary of Jacques Fontaine, born in Jenouille (or Genouillé), France in 1658. He describes the welcome he received from protestant hosts: “After paying for our passage, I had only twenty gold pistoles left, but God had not conducted us in safety to a haven there to leave us to perish with hunger; the good people of Barnstaple had compassion upon us, took us into their houses, and treated us with the greatest kindness; thus God raised up for us fathers and mothers, and brothers and sisters, in a strange land”. Barnstaple received funds from the Civil List, during William and Mary’s reign, to support the Huguenots living in there. And shortly after their arrival, the local authorities gave them St. Anne's Chapel (now a museum and community centre) as a place of worship; services were held there in French until 1762. Fontaine stayed with a local merchant called Downe, and was joined in Barnstaple by further 126 immigrants. His diary was translated and published under the title: ‘A Tale of the Huguenots’ or ‘Memoirs of a French Refugee Family’ in 1838, and goes on to record his business failures and successes and trials in love and later marriage.

The Huguenot influence on Barnstaple - as in many of the towns in which the refugees settled - was on-going, due to their introduction of different divisions of wool manufacture and dyeing processes, for which the town became famous. Jean Ulrich Passavant, a Huguenot from Strasbourg, created a table carpet depicting Barnstaple's coat of arms and presented it to the town. The carpet also displayed the name of the mayor, Monier Roch Esq., and the date, 1761. The Roch family, who were of Huguenot descent, was prominent in Barnstaple. Both Matthew Roch and his son Monier Roch established themselves within the local community and served several times as the Town's Mayor. In 1791 Monier Roch founded the Barnstaple Bank and was borough treasurer. A portrait of Matthew Roch can be seen in Barnstaple’s Guildhall.

Cross of LorraineRunning off from Allhalland Street is the cul-de-sac of Chapel Lane, named after the Huguenot Chapel that used to be at the far end of the lane. A French Huguenot congregation was set up in Bideford in 1695 and this lane lead to their church.

Lord Mayors Chapel BristolBristol was one of a second group of towns in which new Huguenot settlements developed – the first being in Ipswich and Rye in 1681. From the end of the 17th century, between 400 and 500 Huguenots moved to Bristol, making-up 2.5% of the population. They received money from the Civil List, allocated by William and Mary, between 1689 and 1693.

St. Mark’s Church on the North East side of College Green in Bristol was given to the Huguenots to worship by the City Corporation. They used the church between
1687 and 1722. Mrs. Gautier, wife of the Reverend Gautier the French pastor, opened a boarding and day school.

A few of the Huguenots who settled in Bristol, came from wealthy merchant families, from La Rochelle and other French Atlantic ports, including the Peloquins, Laroche and Goizin families. Their trading contacts in America with other Huguenot and Dutch merchants ensured they quickly established themselves in the Atlantic economy and contributed substantially to the city's prosperity.

One famous Bristol Huguenot was Francis Billo, a metalworker, who became well known for his chandeliers in the West County. He created a ceremonial crown (c.1733) in copper, to wear for the Processions of the Trades, modeled on a Royal crown. It is now in the collection of Bristol Museums. Another renowned Bristol Huguenot was silversmith Solomon Egare (Huguenots often were baptized with Old Testament names), who lived in the city before settling in America.

weavers house CanterburyThe Huguenot settlement in Canterbury started when the authorities considered the community in Sandwich, Kent, to have grown too large. 100 families were accepted in 1575. Its numbers continued to swell in the years following the Massacre of St. Bartholomew in France, and the second revolt in the Netherlands, and it came to represent the largest foreign population outside London.

The welcome extended to Huguenot refugees in part reflected the perceived benefit to the English economy, particularly the potential for developing the textile industry. Using the textile processing and weaving techniques learnt on the continent, New Draperies were established in textile towns such as Canterbury. They produced lighter fabrics, made from a mix of fibres, suitable for export to Europe, rather than making traditional woolen fabrics. The benefits led the Privy Council to protected Huguenot weavers in Canterbury, when they were attacked by locals. Many successful Spitalfields weavers established the viability of their businesses in Canterbury. As Spitalfields weaving flourished in the 18th century, the Canterbury industry went into decline, ceasing entirely in 1837 as a result of the mechanisation.

The Huguenot congregation in Canterbury was first allowed to worship at St. Alphege Church, but as their numbers grew, they were invited to use the Western Crypt of Canterbury Cathedral. Movement towards Spitalfields and assimilation saw numbers fall, and they moved to the smaller Black Prince Chantry in the Cathedral, where the Eglise Protestante Française de Cantorbéry [The French Protestant Church of Canterbury] still meets today.

DoverDover’s coastal position and proximity to France made it a natural landing and first point of settlement for Huguenot refugees. Many stayed temporarily, moving on to larger communities in London and Canterbury, or before returning home during periods of relatively greater safety. Early in the seventeenth century a census was taken of the foreign persons residing in Dover; it was found that there were seventy-eight people “two were preachers of God's Word; three were physicians and surgeons; two were advocates; two esquires; three were merchants; two were schoolmasters; thirteen were drapers, butchers and other trades; twelve were mariners; eight weavers and wool-combers; twenty-five were widows and makers of bone; two were maidens; one the wife of a shepherd; one a gardener and one a nondescript male”.

As in many towns where Huguenots had settled, the Dover textile industry grew and was an important means for the newcomers to earn a living. Dover, and nearby Sandwich, were particularly known for woolcombing; the process of arranging the fibres so they are parallel, ready for spinning.

There was a French Church in Dover from the 1640s, following the tradition of the Flemish congregation that had been in the town since the 16th century. It was part of a triumvirate of Churches with Guisnes, in northern France, and Cadzand, in the Dutch province of Zeeland, which had a mobile population, many of whom moved to Dover and then back onto the mainland. The Dover Huguenot settlement was considered sizable enough between 1689 and 1693 to receive monies from the civil list given by William and Mary.

Passavant CarpetOutside of London, the largest foreign communities in England in the late 17th century were settled in Devon, Canterbury and East Anglia; approximately one third of the population in each. In Devon the largest groups were resident in Exeter and Plymouth. These settlements came about because of each town’s proximity to the sea and relationship with the textile trade, where immigrants could hope to obtain work. In Exeter there would have been opportunities for skilled weavers in the flourishing serge business. The City briefly became famous for carpet production thanks to Swiss Huguenot Claude Passavant, who purchased a London workshop in 1755, and brought many of the weavers to Exeter. The designs they wove are thought to have been bought from France. Just three Passavant carpets have survived, at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Petworth House and in a private collection.

A Huguenot conformist congregation was started at St. Olaves Church, on Fore Street in Exeter, in 1686 – one of two churches used by the settlers in the City, there was also a non-conformists congregation, founded earlier in 1620. Those that attended at St. Olaves were recorded to be 120 strong in 1715, under the minister Andrew Majendie. Services were conducted in French, and the church was popularly known as the French church. This ceased in 1758, when its members joined the Anglican Church.

A link to Exeter’s Huguenot past exists today in the gentlemen’s outfitters Luget, located in the Cathedral Yard. The Luget’s – Anne and James - are thought to have been French Huguenots, who married in Exeter in 1806. Their son Follet Luget, born on 17 December 1817 became a tailor and establish the name’s association with tailoring in the City.

Strangers Hall NorwichA major change the Huguenots made to Norfolk was the drainage of the fens. Before moving to England, their skills in this area had been deployed in draining the marshes from Dunkirk to just below Calais. Between 1627 and 1652, they reclaimed 40,000 acres of fenland. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, the radical ideas of the French boosted industry so much that by the late 1700s, Norwich had become the most important manufacturing city outside London.
Norwich was the centre of a large textile industry, but in the 16th Century this industry was struggling. The City needed more workers and they came over from a region now covered by Belgium, France and the Netherlands. These refugees were known as 'Strangers' – the local dialect word in those days. The Strangers taught local workers to produce new types of cloth in different ways, which helped the textile industry. They also helped to rebuild the whole area north of the River Wensum after it was devastated by a freak fire in 1507. They supported English parishes by donating money to them and Dutch and French schools were established in the area.

Norwich City Football Club is known as 'The Canaries'. The name comes from The Strangers, who were European refugees who came to live in Norwich in the 16th Century. They were famous for breeding canaries, and the football club's name is one of their most famous legacies. Many people who live in Norwich now are descendants of these Strangers, whose influence can still be seen in buildings around the region, as well as in the way Norfolk people talk.

Many Huguenots decided to flee to Plymouth. T his was almost certainly due to existing trading connections between Huguenot families and the port of Plymouth. The 1680s saw successive boatloads fleeing persecution and seeking sanctuary in Plymouth. A large Huguenot community settled in Plymouth with another at Stonehouse. These entrepreneurial and often highly skilled merchants and traders found themselves at ease in their new homes. They thrived in their new surroundings and provided new opportunities and contacts to the traders and merchants of Plymouth. French language services were held at St. George's Chapel and at the old friary on Southside Street as the Protestants sought to continue their faith in their mother language.

Jeakes House RyeFrom 1562 Rye willingly gave shelter to large numbers of Huguenots fleeing from persecution in France and in 1582 there were over 1500 people of French extraction living in the town, whose total population was about 3500. For a time they had their own ministers and held their own services in the church but by the end of the century, they attended the ordinary services. In 1685 a further 50 Huguenot families arrived after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Some of the Huguenots’ descendants worship in the church to this day.The clock of the church was made in about 1561-62 by the Huguenot Lewys Billiard who was paid 30 pounds for his work. It is one of the oldest turret clocks in the country still functioning.

Jeake’s House in Rye originally belonged to the Jeake family. Of Huguenot origin, the family’s first settler in Rye appears to have been a late 16th-century merchant, William Jeaque (a possible corruption of Jacques). His son Henry set up a bakery in the High Street. William’s grandson, Samuel Jeake junior, made his living as a wool merchant and Jeake house was previously a storehouse for his wool.

Historian Jo Kirkham has created and printed a map of a Huguenot walk in Rye highlighting locations of special interest. The Huguenot Walking Map costs £1 and can be obtained from the East Street Museum in Rye via their email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Paul de Lamerie plaqueAs with Spitalfields and Bethnal Green, late seventeenth and early eighteenth-century immigrants to Soho were driven by religious conviction and dominated by Protestant refugees, but following the French Revolution and the Terror, this population in the West End was substantially mixed with French Catholic priests and political refugees of a very different stamp. By 1801 some 5,600 priests and 4,000 lay French Catholics could be counted as British residents, their community centred on Soho to the south, and Fitzrovia just to the north, of Oxford Street. In the mid-eighteenth century William Maitland could claim: "Many parts of this parish so greatly abound with French that it is an easy matter for a stranger to imagine himself in France". The French Protestant Church of London in Soho Square is the only remaining Huguenot church in London.

St Juliens ChapelIn one corner of Town Quay Park, there is a small garden dedicated to the Huguenots who came to Southampton seeking sanctuary from religious persecution in France and the Netherlands. A Mulberry tree, which is a symbol of the silk industry brought to the city by the Huguenots, shades plants of French origin. A nearby plaque donated by the Women's Gas Federation for its opening in 1985 explains the garden's history.

SpitalfieldsSpitalfields' historic association with the silk industry was established by French Protestant (Huguenots) refugees who settled in this area after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. By settling here, outside the bounds of the City of London, they hoped to avoid the restrictive legislation of the City Guilds. The Huguenots brought with them little, apart from their skills, and an Order in Council of 16 April 1687 raised £200,000 for the relief of their poverty. In December 1687, the first report of the committee set up to administer the funds reported that 13,050 French refugees were settled in London, primarily around Spitalfields, but also in the nearby settlements of Bethnal Green, Shoreditch, Whitechapel and Mile End New Town.

The late 17th and 18th centuries saw an estate of well-appointed terraced houses, built to accommodate the master weavers controlling the silk industry, and grand urban mansions built around the newly created Spital Square. In 1860, a treaty was established with France, allowing the import of cheaper French silks. This left the many weavers in Spitalfields, and neighbouring Bethnal Green and Shoreditch indigent. New trades such as furniture and boot making came to the area; and the large windowed Huguenot houses were found suitable for tailoring, attracting a new population of Jewish refugees drawn to live and work in the textile industry.

thorney abbeyRefugees were invited to settle in Thorney, in the fenlands, because of their expertise in maintaining drained land, which could be cultivated and farmed. Coming to Thorney offered advantages; Oliver Cromwell declared that if they bought or farmed lands the newcomers were accounted “free denizens of the Commonwealth”. In a proclamation by Oliver Cromwell, the settlers were given extra rights, including some tax relief and exemptions from military service overseas for forty years. They worshiped in the ruins of Thorney Abbey, where there is a marble memorial tablet on the north wall inscribed to Ezekiel Danois of Compiegne, France, the first minister of the Huguenot colony which fled to England to avoid persecution and settled in Thorney. He was at Thorney Abbey for 21 years, and buried there, aged 54, in 1674. Huguenot pastors continued to minister at Thorney until 1715.

The settlement had two further influxes. The first was caused by Queen Elizabeth who sent the Artois Walloons from Southampton to Thorney. The second influx was caused by the French Church in London in about 1685. They moved a group of Huguenots from the south up into the Thorney area to "take part in that congregation" to 'bolster' the population. The real reason was that the French Church had been having trouble with the Walloons at Thorney and Norwich for a long time. The Walloons spoke and read a different language, not a patois or dialect or French but their own language, Romand, which is a romance language very like French but said to be much older, and they did not want pastors coming out from London to preach in French so they arranged for their pastors to come from the Netherlands.

whitchurch silk millWinchester Cathedral is home to the George Prevost Monument. Sir George Prévost, 1st Baronet (1767 – 1816) was a British soldier and colonial administrator. His father, Major General Augustine Prévost (1723 – 1786), was a Swiss-born British soldier born to a French Huguenot family originally from Poitou, France.
In the Triforiium Gallery in Winchester Cathedral, there is a plaque of Thomas Garnier, Dean of Winchester (1776-1873). Dean Garnier's Garden in the close of Winchester Cathedral is named after him. His ancestor, Isaac Garnier of La Rochelle, fled France in 1685.

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