Huguenots of Spitalfields

May 2014 Newsletter - Issue 4

Huguenot Threads: a series of walks, talks and events will run from 9th to 20th July, 2014; it is presented in partnership with the City of London and sponsored by British Land, Water Poet and the Crown & Shuttle. Visit to see the programme of events and how to book tickets (many are free).


We will be highlighting the forgotten housing of Spitalfields – the journeymen weavers’ houses – rare and early survival of building types that once dominated Spitalfields but of which only a handful remain, mostly in highly dilapidated states. What makes them so different from the other domestic working houses is that this specific building style emerged in response to the burgeoning silk industry; they are therefore of special architectural and historic interest. Many of you will have heard Dan Cruickshank talk about their importance to Spitalfields. Peter Guillery, author of the Small House in 18th century London, will be giving a talk about these houses, attending a fund-raising evening and conducting a walk.


There are visits to Raven Row Gallery, the Goldsmiths’ and Apothecaries’ Livery Halls, the V&A, Dr. Johnson’s House, and 37 Spital Square. By request, we have included return visits to the Guildhall and Bishopsgate Libraries, the Museum of London, and the London Metropolitan Archives - and if you have not enjoyed or participated in a French Protestant service before, we hope that you will join us at the French church in Soho Square for an enriching experience.


Our long-term objective is to identify the Huguenots of Spitalfields – who they were and where they lived. So if you are of Huguenot descent, with Spitalfields connections, be sure to visit 'Town House' in Fournier Street or email any time before the end of August and either mark where your ancestors lived on the Spitalfields map or leave your Huguenot name on the chart.

Soirée in Spitalfields It was a brilliant, successful and thoroughly enjoyable evening: hosted in a beautiful 18th century house, the charm of the venue enhanced by some superb poetry readings - Siân Phillips (shortly to play Lady Bracknell in the West End) read Thomas Hood’s 'The Shirt' and Rodney Archer (whose house on Fournier Street you will be able to visit during Huguenots Threads) read 'The Huguenot';

Soiree in Spitalfields - photo by Jeremy Freedman 2014

This was followed by a fascinating talk by Dr Robin Gwynn about four Huguenot Ministers who were connected to the two churches in Fournier Street, and the evening ended with The Gentle Author of Spitalfield’s Life reading A Dress of Spitalfield’s Silk - Mrs. Fanshawe’s amazing two metre-wide dress on show at the Museum of London. The funds raised will go towards the educational programme.




6th - Huguenots Footsteps: (guide: John Halligan) Donation £10; meet outside Christ Church 2pm.

16th - Visit the historic Lincoln's Inn, Chapel and Great Hall, donation £5, meet in the Undercroft at 2pm.



3rd - Huguenots Footsteps:Donation £10; meet outside Christ Church 2pm.

6th – A second chance to visit Lincoln's Inn, Chapel and Great Hall; donation £5; meet in the Undercroft at 2pm.



1st - Huguenot Footsteps: Donation £10; meet at Christ Church at 2pm.

9th to 20th July DAILY WALKS: 


Huguenots in the City; donation £5; meet by the Duke of Wellington statue in front of the Royal Exchange at 11am. Duration:one hour.


11th & 12th July and 19th & 20th July: WEEKEND WALKS


12noon: Highlights of Spitalfields

2pm: Historic Spitalfields

3pm: Silk, Sanctuary and Spitalfields

Donation £10; 90 minute walk; meet outside Christ Church.


18th- Rochester French Hospital: opportunity to visit La Providence, see the site of the new Heritage Centre and maybe even squeeze in a brief visit to the cathedral, castle, Six Poor Travellers' House and Restoration House. Donation £20 (travel extra); meet at St. Pancras Station at about 11am; light lunch included. Details from



We are trying to compile a list of what is left of the traces of the Huguenots in this country together with details of other relevant items such as textiles, paintings, houses, architecture, street names, artefacts from clocks to Bibles, personalities, silverware, French churches - whether they still exist or not - the list is endless! So please share your knowledge with us.


HUGUENOT CONNECTIONS: The Ogier Family of 19 Princelet Street

Marie Ward Portrait

Marie Ward (nee Ogier). Marie was born on 8 October 1767 in Clapton, east London, the daughter of Louis Ogier and Katherine Creuze, both from large Huguenot families. She was baptized at Threadneedle Street Church on 28 October 1767.


Marie was the thirteenth child of sixteen. Her father, a Master weaver of silks and flowered velvets, had established himself in London, and was naturalized in 1753.

At the age of six, Marie and her brothers and sisters moved to America with her parents. The family settled in Charleston, South Carolina, a state that actively welcomed French Protestants. After her father’s death in 1780, her mother returned to London with Marie and some of her siblings; others decided to stay in Charleston, having married locally.


In 1797, Marie married Revered Michael Ward in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Their first child, Marie Ogier, was born in 1798 followed by four sons, two of whom died in childhood, and a daughter.


Michael Ward was Vicar of All Saints Church in Lapley, near Stafford, and the family lived in Tamworth. In 1836, he became Rector of St John the Baptist Church in Stiffkey and the family moved to north Norfolk. He died in 1841.


In 1824 Marie had her portrait painted by the artist and friend, John Glover. She moved to Kensington to be with her kin after her husband’s death, and died there on 17 January 1849, aged 81.



The French Hospital has received a confirmed grant of £1.2 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the development of the first national Huguenot Heritage Centre in Rochester. The Centre will tell the story of the flight of Huguenots to Britain, explain their key contributions to the formation of modern Britain and explore contemporary issues that resonate with the Huguenot experience. The HHC will open in the summer of 2015 above the Visitor Information Centre on Rochester’s High Street.



Why was Peter Prelleur so important?

Peter Prelleur is notable as a Huguenot who was appointed first organist at Christ Church Spitalfields following the installation of Richard Brydges large new organ there - and against strong competition. He was well-known as a music theorist of the time. He supplemented his income with works and performances at thelocal fly-by-night theatres. He died just at the point that David Garrick began his acting career at one of these theatres. Stephen Massil

Is there a meaning to the shape of the Huguenot Cross?

The Four Gospels are symbolised by a Maltese Cross formed by a four-petalled Lily of France. 
The eight Beatitudes are represented by the eight rounded points. The twelve Apostles are signified by four Fleur-de-lis, with three petals each.
The open space is heart-shaped.
 The Holy Spirit is signified by the pendant dove.


Brooches / Pendants (chain not supplied) £9.50 each and  Lapel Pins £7.50 each are available to purchase from the Huguenot Society. Add £1.00 p&p and send your cheque to 'The Administrative Officer, Huguenot Society, PO Box 444, Ruislip, HA4 4GU'

The Huguenot Cross

Is it true that the Huguenots loved canaries?

The cheerful sound of the singing canary used to be heard throughout Spitalfields as the weavers toiled long hours; they kept the canaries to provide background music. The Huguenots may well have bought their songbirds in the markets close by, perhaps Club Row and Petticoat Lane markets which sold birds and other animals up to the 1970s.



Anna Maria Garthwaite the outstanding English pattern maker who lived with the French Huguenot weaving community in Princelet Street will be featured in episode two of The Story of Women & Art, premiering on iPlayer from 6th May and on BBC Two television, series starting 16th May.


Phil Maxwell’s 'Brick Lane' is the latest publication from Spitalfields Life books. Its 300 pages record thirty years of Phil’s dramatic black and white photographs of Brick Lane, telling the story of volatile social change from 1982 until the present day. The book costs just £10 and is available from and 'Town House' at 5 Fournier Street E1.


3.5 MILLION VIEWERS watched the Great British Sewing Bee on BBC2 recently, with a feature by Claudia Winkleman on the silk weavers of Spitalfields.


Congratulation to Spitalfields Music who, this year, celebrates the 25th anniversary of their hugely impressive Learning and Participation programme. The 2014 Summer Music Festival runs from 6th to 21st June.  For details visit


After a lengthy fight to try to save the Fruit & Wool Exchange in Brushfield Street, July sees the start of the demolition of this fine building and the eradication of 15th century Dorset Street from the map of Spitalfields


In August, 28 metres below ground, the tunneling for CrossRail commences under Spitalfields.


Visitors to Spitalfields will have seen the fast progress being made on the 200 bedroom hotel currently under construction in Brick Lane, facing Fournier Street.

French Hospital in Hackney

French Hospital, Hackney Revitalised

The former French Hospital in Hackney is to become part of a new school, Mossbourne Victoria Park Academy. The development will rework the existing 19th century French Hospital building in Victoria Park Village and add a new four storey block to create a secondary school for 800 students.

The French Hospital, built in 1865, has operated as a school since 1949. The existing building with its grand staircase, top lit circulation and ornate Gothic features will accommodate the school’s library in the original Court Room of the French Hospital. The former Chapel will be converted to a drama space. The new school hopes to be open for its first students in September 2014.


THANK YOU to...... the wonderful businessses who donated prizes for the raffle at the Soirée in Spitalfields: Nadia at Chez Elle in Brick Lane - our favourite Bistro, Mark and Philip of Crescent Trading in Greyfriars Lane, Androuet who runs the finest cheese shop in Spitalfields Market, Fiona Atkins for allowing the winner to stay overnight in her 18th C Huguenots’ house, Phil Maxwell for his new book on Brick Lane, and curator Mick Peroni who donated two tickets for a visit to the magical Dennis Severs’ House. Thank you to the many individuals and groups who have supported the Spitalfields 1912 exhibition and walks.


Thank you.

We warmly appreciate all the support and help that you give to the Huguenots of Spitalfields Charity.

The views and opinions expressed in these article are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Huguenots of Spitalfields charity.

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