Huguenots of Spitalfields

August 2017 Newsletter - Issue 15

It’s been a wonderful summer, making new friends, meeting up with old ones, sharing experiences, investigating ancestry - made all the more enjoyable by our common interest in Huguenot culture. We travelled together to Faversham, Norwich and Sudbury, discovering Huguenot heritage and enduring all forms of the British weather!


From weavers’ cottages to silk mills, French churches to a Jacquard loom, every town revealed its Huguenot legacy, an enriching experience for us all.

The historian-guides, Rod Morley (Faversham), Rod Spokes (Norwich) and David Burnett (Sudbury) illuminated the living and working conditions of the Huguenot weavers.  If you missed our visit to Sudbury, the exhibition ‘Silk: From Spitalfields to Sudbury’ at Gainsborough House, runs until 8th October.

Huguenot Cottages in Faversham. Credit: MG Jones

Autumn Events: Huguenots of Spitalfields

Historian Peter Guillery will be at the German Lutheran Church, 55 Alie Street, E1, on Wednesday 27th September for his last talk on the Journeymen Weavers’ Houses. Doors open at 6pm. Price £8.  The Guildhall Library was packed out for Peter Guillery’s previous talk, so be sure to get your tickets soon!


We have a few places left for the Private Visit to Blythe House in West Kensington, hosted by Olivia Horsfall Turner, to see Spitalfields Silk at 11am on Wednesday 27th September. Booking essential:


For those inquisitive to see the Journeymen Weavers’ Houses, Huguenot guide, Julia Kuznecow, will be outside Shoreditch High Street station on Saturday 7th October at 2pm, ready to show what remains of these buildings that make up the fabric of the East End. For tickets:


City Matters has featured the Journeymen Weavers’ Houses in an article 'The Spitalfields silk weavers that time forgot'.



Olivia Horsfall Turner, V&A curator, will be giving the 5th Annual V&A Huguenot Lecture in the Hochhauser Auditorium on Wednesday 18th October. Doors open at 12.40pm.  Free. The topic is Deciphering the Designs of the Late Ingenious Mr. Leman.


Join us at Canterbury on Monday 23rd October, for the last of the Huguenot town visits this year. Book through The guided walk will highlight the ‘new draperies’ and how they made Canterbury a major silk weaving centre. The tour begins at 2pm and for those who need a reviving cup of tea, we will end our walk at a local café. We hope Dan Cruickshank, historian and author, will have the time to join us.


Huguenot Footsteps: Spitalfields – there are two remaining walks around historic Spitalfields this year on Tuesday 5th September with Hugh Dennis and on Tuesday 3rd October with John Halligan. Meet outside Christ Church, Spitalfields at 2pm. Donation £10.


If you or anyone you know would like to book a group Huguenot walk (min. 10 people), please contact ‘A fascinating glimpse of hidden Soho, coupled with the history of the Huguenots, given by a charming guide.’ comments one client. 


Guides who have conducted Huguenot walks this year include:

picture picture photo pic

Pictured from left to right: Julia Kuznecow, Tim Kidd, Kate Boyle, Paul Baker


Other Events

The Silk River project is an artistic exchange between the communities of Kolkata and London and will include a walk carrying 20 silk scrolls from Kew to Southend, stopping in Spitalfields on Saturday 16th September. Visit:


If you’re coming to Spitalfields on 18th September, 23rd October and 27th November, why not drop by Christ Church to hear the famous Richard Bridge Organ being played by outstanding organists. The first organist at Christ Church was Peter Prelleur. Admission £10


The Rt Revd Dr. Graham Tomlin, Bishop of Kensington, has alerted us to a national service in Westminster Abbey on 31st October commemorating Reformation Day. If you want to apply for a ticket, click here:


The Bishop is also involved in a major conference on the Reformation and the Future of the Church on 4th October in St Mellitus College. For tickets:


We were intrigued to discover Huguenot links and treasures held by the National Trust:-


Loughwood Meeting House in Axminster is an isolated chapel which was used as a secret worshipping place.  Huguenot, Jean de Phippen was instrumental in the founding of Loughwood – providing the land upon which it was built.


Hatfield Forest, previously a royal hunting ground, was once owned by the Houblons - a very wealthy and influential Huguenot family. The Houblons purchased Hallingbury Place estate, including Hatfield Forest, in 1729.

Dunham Massey Hall. At this Elizabethan house, remodelled for the 2nd Earl of Warrington, near Altrincham, Greater Manchester there is a fine collection of Huguenot silver and Huguenot silk adorns the walls of the Chapel. The 2nd Earl, George Booth, was the leading patron of Huguenot silversmiths of the day and his outstanding collection includes the works of Peter Archambo and David Willaume.

Huguenot silk behind the altar at Dunham Massey

If you didn’t have the pleasure of meeting Arthur Percival, many of you will know of his reputation, heard him speak or read his books.  The Huguenots were one of his favourite topics! We were saddened to hear of the death of this hugely knowledgeable and charming gentleman but encouraged to hear that the Fleur de Lys Heritage Centre in Faversham has planned a fitting tribute to his memory by launching the Arthur Percival Memorial Fund to raise money to computerise Arthur’s unique photographs and research papers – a huge undertaking. For more information, contact:

Alex McWhirter, Curator of Moyse’s Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds, has kindly sent us a photograph and details of a Puritan watch made by Francis Nawe.  Nawe fled to England to escape persecution of Protestants in the Netherlands after 1570 and settled in the Parish of St Ann's, Blackfriars, where he became one of the founding fathers of English domestic horology. He died together with his family when the plague swept through St Ann's in 1598.

A very early oval shaped English watch in a gilt metal case, the engraved gilt metal dial has a steel arrow tip hand, c.1590. By Francis Nawe at London. Credit: Moyse’s Hall Museum & St Edmundsbury Heritage Service.

Alex McWhirter also forwarded a list of Huguenot pupils that attended Edward VI Grammar School, including members of the Boileau, Chevallier and Lestourgeon families.


We have researched 50 Huguenot personalities that appear in the huge National Portrait Gallery collection. We would love some help identifying more from their online search facility: If you have a spare hour to help us, please let us know.


We Were Asked

Is it still possible to purchase Spitalfields Silk?

One well established dealer is Meg Andrews who acquires pieces of Spitalfields silks, stoles and dresses. You can visit her website:

Spitalfields silk shawl. Credit: Meg Andrews

Did Huguenots change their names in places other than England in order to assimilate?


Brian Wood researched a list of names altered by Huguenots who settled in South Africa, for example, Le Clercq became De Klerk and Jourdan became Jordaan. 


We Were Told


…that Hugh Riviere’s painting Garden of Eden is on display at the Guildhall Art Gallery in the City of London. His father, Briton Riviere, was also a painter.


…that Huguenot artists travelled to Sweden to paint wallpaper for Drottlingholme Palace.  Leila Tuuli, Curator of The Royal Collection, Stockholm, confirmed that Huguenots worked in the building of many of the Royal Palaces. Personalities included Simon de la Vallée, architect, and his son, Jean de la Vallée, André Mollet worked in the palace gardens, Antoine de Beaulieu was a dancing teacher, Sébastien Bourdon and Nicolas Vallari were painters, Doctor Grégoire Du Rietz, the miniature and enamel painter Pierre Signac, jeweller Valentin Toutin, silk trader Charles Boit and tailor André Lefebure – were all connected in one way or another to Queen Christina’s Court (reigned 1632-1654).


…Belgian conductor Paul van Neval has released a CD The Ear of the Huguenots by the Huelgas Ensemble.


…The Common Lot recently staged a historical pastiche highlighting the history of the Norwich incomers Come Yew In!  A Proud History of the Strangers of Norwich including the Huguenots.


…in 1626 Nicholas Lanier was appointed the first Master of the King’s Musick to the Court of Charles I. He was a lutenist, singer and viol player.  Since then there have been 20 further Masters, who hold the title for ten years, with Judith Weir the first woman to hold this position.


…Portarlington in Ireland (88 km west of Dublin) stages a French Festival each year in July. During the 17thC Portarlington was home to a number of French Huguenot refugees and the French themed festival centres around the houses and landmarks that still exist today.


…Catherine Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, is descended from Elizabeth Martineau, who was part of a hugely influential Huguenot family in Norwich. Elizabeth was the elder sister of Harriet Martineau, the first female sociologist.


...Brighton isn’t the obvious place you would expect to find Huguenot traces but once the French Protestant church there had over 2,000 people in its congregation. For more details, visit: The French Protestant Church of Brighton


...of three interesting website links:

Virtual Museum of Protestantism (Musee virtuel du Protestantisme) 

Reformed Church of France (Elise Reformee de France) 

Society of Studies and Research on Protestantism (le site de la Société Montalbanaise d’Étude et de Recherche sur le protestantisme (SMERP) 


French Hospital


Are you a Friend of La Providence? If not, do contact Vanessa Weddell and gain access to their very creative programme of events.  Membership starts at just £25 per person a year.


You will be invited to the Friends’ Day at the London Cloth Company Mill in Epping on Monday 2 October. This is a working mill specialising in quality woven cloth, produced on their carefully restored shuttle looms dating from the 1870s. After the tour, Jonathan Ouvry, a Director of The French Hospital and member of the Worshipful Company of Weavers will speak about the history of weaving and his own fascinating family connections to this industry. Unmissable! Tickets are £25 per person, including tea and cake on arrival. Limited places - Booking deadline is 11th September.


No Turning Back: Seven Migration Moments that Changed Britain


A free exhibition looking at key British ‘migration moments’, including the arrival of Huguenots opens on 20th September. Featuring  contemporary art and a range of media the exhibition encourages visitors to engage with the past and make connections with their lives and the present. 


The exhibition is at Migration Museum at The Workshop, 26 Lambeth High Street, SE1 7AG


Wed-Sun 11am-5pm


Thank You


To Julius Walters, descendant of the founder of the silk weaving firm Stephen Walters, for inviting us to visit the Silk Mills and to see their talented staff at work producing the most amazingly beautiful fabric. We all felt hugely privileged and want to thank Julius for his graciousness and generosity in allowing us to indulge our passion for textiles. To hear Julius Walters’ insight into contemporary silk manufacturing was revelatory.


To Brenda Allenby for her help in researching the Huguenot Towns; Martin Clarke for his research work in Norwich; the Spitalfields Trust for help with the Journeymen Weavers’ houses project; and Dr. Robin Gwynn for generously providing historical details of Greenwich.

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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