Huguenots of Spitalfields

Month YEAR Newsletter - Issue 6

In April 2012 we decided to stage three festivals to highlight the courage, talents and contribution of the Huguenots in this country. The Huguenots of Spitalfields Festival in 2013, with The Big Weave in Spitalfields Market and the memorable Thanksgiving Service at Christ Church, was followed by the lecture series Huguenot Threads in 2014. A charity was formed, based around heritage and education, and we were delighted when the Bishop of London agreed to be Patron and Dan Cruickshank, Trustee. These festivals attracted more than 17,000 people and the feedback was so overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic that it has sustained and encouraged us to believe that there is genuine interest in our work.


The funds raised by the 2013/14 festivals were for a Huguenot memorial plaque to be erected in Spitalfields and a web-based primary schools project. Both are currently underway and will be unveiled during the course of the year. In order for the charity to continue, we need to appoint part-time staff to continue the educational work. Funds raised during Huguenot Summer will fund the staffing necessary to allow Huguenots of Spitalfields charity to continue.


Huguenot Summer 2015, presented in partnership with the City of London Corporation, will run from June to September, designed to support the opening of the Huguenot Museum in Rochester which opens in early summer and the Huguenot exhibition; The Montagus and the Huguenots initiated by the Duke of Buccleuch at Boughton House, near Kettering, which opens to group visitors in July and the general public in August.


Many of the events will centre around the City of London and Spitalfields, but this year the programme will also include some of the towns where the Huguenots settled, including Plymouth, Exeter, Taunton, Winchester, Dover, Rochester, Rye, Colchester, Norwich, as well as Wandsworth, Clerkenwell, Greenwich, Lambeth and Soho. The organisers in these towns have gone out of their way to adapt their programme to include a special Huguenot themed talk , activity or special event – often with some difficulty and at some expense - so we ask your support to encourage your family and friends living in these towns to attend the events. The first will be in Exeter on the 6th May.


Huguenot Summer 2015

The Festival content has been designed around your requests.  Over 80 events have been planned, here are just a few highlights:


A textile workshop day held in a silk merchants house in Spitalfields and based around Huguenot silk designs will take place on Saturday 13th June at 10am. Led by textile artist Susan Vickery, you will be able to choose a Huguenot silk weaving design and a resources pack of fabrics and create an appliquéd and embroidered panel to take home.

Booking is now open. 
SPAB, 37 Spital Square E1 6DY.  Ticket Price £75pp including fabrics, materials, equipment and refreshments. For more information, visit: or call 020 7377 1644

For centuries the diaspora from many countries with many faiths have settled in Spitalfields. Professor Anne Kershen’s talk, intriguing called There was a Priest, a Rabbi and an Imam ... will include an exploration of the Protestant work ethic.

Many people were disappointed not to secure a ticket last time Dr Margaret Clegg spoke about the human remains at Christ Church, so we are delighted that she has agreed to participate in our festival again.

Anne Kershen

Many of you were first time visitors to Spitalfields and expressed surprise at its history, so this year we are including: Before the Huguenots: Spitalfields Excavations by Jelena Bekvalac from the Museum of London.


What is pre-determination? Who was John Calvin and why was he so influential? How did he grow the church? What does TULIP stand for? The distinguished Dr Graham Tomlin, Professor at Melitus College, London will help us understand the unswerving faith of the Huguenots.


Tea & Talks: a series of 20 minute talks over a cup of tea with Giles de la Mare talking about his grandfather, Walter; Trisha Jean Marie on Mount Nod cemetery in Wandsworth; Peter Duval on Life in the French Hospital (and the new Heritage Museum) the Gentle Author of Spitalfields Life ( on Spitalfields Nippers.


The Royal Silk of Spitalfields is the title of Warner Archivist Kate Widgely’s talk. And later on in the Festival we will also have the opportunity to visit these Archives and also the Braintree Museum to hear the Curator talk about the Courtauld Family.

Will Palin has invited us to the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, for a personal tour to help our fund-raising efforts.

Huguenot Whispers – we invite a limited number of people to be interviewed as part of an oral history project. Do you have a story about your Spitalfields Huguenot heritage, your family’s trade, where they lived? If so, we would like to capture your story in a short interview on Saturday 25 July.

Will Palin

Send a short paragraph, just 50 words, with your story and we will contact you -

Tickets will be available from early April, via our website (which will link directly  to EventBrite) together with links to the venue websites. More details will appear in the April Newsletter and on our website


To help you plan, please click here to see the programme to date. (Please note, there may be changes and these will be updated on the website)


Fund-raising walks hosted by qualified guides will run throughout the summer in Spitalfields, Soho, Greenwich, Clerkenwell, Wandsworth and the City of London. They will last for no longer than 90 minutes and a donation of £10 per head is requested.


Group Tours: these need to be booked in advance (minimum 10 people, maximum 25 people) by contacting

Turn up and Go Walks: visit our website for details.



Our new website has just gone live and we hope you find it easy to navigate. We will be constantly adding new content so if you have any suggestions, do let us know. We invite you to contribute to two specific sections:



Please help identify the visual remains of Huguenot heritage in your local area: details on buildings, artefacts, street names, paintings, artwork etc. We just need: Where it is, What it is and if relevant, the website address and telephone number or any contact details where those who are interested can investigate.  Information can be added here



We are keen to compile a record of the Huguenots who lived in Spitalfields, Can you help? We are looking for: Family name, Date of residence, Location and Occupation. Information can be added here




Work is progressing well in Rochester. The man construction is now completed  and the museum staff, Hannah and Amy, are currently developing and installing the galleries, learning space, archive room and getting the shop ready for opening in early summer 2015.The museum will open from Wednesdays to Saturdays and Bank Holiday Mondays 10am – 5pm. There will be a small entry charge but this can be validated for 12 months with Gift-Aid. For information on the museum contact Amy on 01634 789347, email or and you can follow them on Facebook or Twitter or visit



Anthony Hennet, a portrait and miniature painter was born in Cologne around 1770 and came to England where he married a Mary Barnard from East London. He appears to have led an itinerant lifestyle with his wife and family until 1812, when he was convicted for theft and sentenced to seven years transportation. His son George became a railway surveyor, engineer and contractor who worked closely with I.K. Brunel. Brian Murless is trying to establish if anyone has come across Anthony in a Huguenot context and would be delighted to hear from you. You can contact him at


London Metropolitan University is currently working on a cross-faculty research project that involves the Design, Architecture and Textile Schools. 

The architecture students were the first to start their project and had to study the skills of the Huguenots in order to re-interpret Huguenot techniques into contemporary pieces of street furniture or street art that was site specific; Brick Lane, Bethnal Green Road, Princelet Street and Fournier Street were some of the locations chosen, and the skills used included upholstery, silversmithing, textiles, leatherwork and casting.  The next project is the Fabric in the City. You can find a copy of these two project briefs on our website. Pictured right: Exhibitors, the Dean and Beatrice Behlen at the Museum of London.



Visit the Fenland Lives and Land Exhibition at Bedford Hall, Thorney, PE6 0QE.

On the 18-19 April between 10.30am to 5pm. Whilst you are there do visit the Thorney Heritage Museum which will be open to visitors.  The exhibition will explore the lives of the Huguenot refugees were invited to settle in the town, in the Fenlands, because of their expertise in draining and maintaining the land, which could then be cultivated and farmed. They worshiped in the ruins of Thorney Abbey.


Also in Thorney on 6-7 June, at Park Farm, Sandpit Road, PE6 OSY telephone 01733 270298. ( between 10.00am – 4pm, enthusiast of vintage machines will gather for the 10th anniversary of the national Open and Vintage Weekend.  For more details of both these events, contact Margaret on 01733 270634 or email

Textile Workshop at SPAB, 37 Spital Square E1 6DY on Saturday 13th June 10am.  Ticket Price £75 pp including fabrics, materials, equipment and refreshments.  For more information, visit: or call 020 7377 1644

There are a few places left on the Ace Cultural Tours visit to France - 31 August to 7 September 2015 - Huguenots of the Cevennes: Remembering the French Wars of Religion. More information from


The sixth international Huguenot conference entitled 'Huguenot Networks in Europe, 1550 - 1800: the impact of a minority' will take place on 9-100 September 2015.



The Huguenots by Geoffrey Treasure, a much-acclaimed book published in 2014, is now available in paperback at £14.99. Published by Yale University Press


The Silversmith’s Wife by Sophia Tobin (who is assistant librarian at the Goldsmiths’ Company) is a fascinating novel about the murder of Pierre Renard, a London silversmith in 1792. Published by Simon and Schuster.



Michael Portillo hosting Great British Train Journeys on BBC One, Series Six: Programme 8. It may still be on BBC IPlayer and includes an interview with Dan de Hanas, the superb speaker whose talk on Immigration in Spitalfields We are Shadows featured in the 2014 Huguenot Threads festival was much enjoyed.



Many of you will remember the incredible experience of the bells of Christ  Church, Spitalfields resounding across area after the thanksgiving service to commemorate the Huguenots.  For over three hours the Society of Royal Cumberland Youths rung out the 5024 HUGUENOT SURPRISE MAJOR.

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.

Please contact with your comments, views and contributions or requests for previous issues of the Strangers' Newsletter.  The charity is currently led by volunteers so do bear with us if there is a delay in the reply to your message.

Visit the Huguenots of Spitalfields website at

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