Huguenots of Spitalfields

April 2019 Newsletter - Issue 20

Treat yourself and a friend to a personalised walk


Private Walking Tours are an ideal birthday or anniversary gift, wherever possible they are tailor-made to your own requirements - you can stroll at your own pace and stop for a coffee en-route.


One visitor commented “ What an informative, interesting walk – I can’t believe how much the guide managed to pack in!”.

During Huguenot Month, one of the most enjoyable events was the two-hour ‘Walk and Draw’ with Piero D’Angelo, where people of all ages and all levels of talent drew in crayons and pastels the Huguenot traces in Spitalfields. As a result, we plan to repeat this on Saturday 17th August.


Photographing Spitalfields and the wine tasting at the atmospheric Town House were also well received. We may repeat these if enough interest is shown, so if you would be interested, please email us


Dates for your diary


Wednesday 1st May - Huguenot Silver: Turtles, Taste and Tureens

There will be an opportunity to immerse yourself in Huguenot Heritage with a six-week course running on Wednesday mornings at the V&A starting on 1st May, encompassing visits to the Soho streets where Huguenot craftsmen lived and worked, to view Huguenot silver at the French Church, Soho Square and Goldsmiths’ Hall and hear leading experts Robin Gwynn, author of Huguenot Heritage; Sasha Gerstein from the Courtauld Institute on the Courtauld dynasty of goldsmiths, Marc Meltonville from Historic Royal Palaces on Huguenot cooks and confectioners and Dinah Winch from the Huguenot Museum. If you are a member of the Huguenot Society there is a 25% discount. Please quote HUGUENOT295


We welcomed the invitation from London Metropolitan Archives to join the ‘Word on the Street: Ordinary People’ festival.

Saturday 11th May at 1.30pm a free talk at the London Metropolitan Archives entitled ‘Journeymen Weavers’  by Julian Woodford who turns the spotlight on the poor, struggling refugee weavers.


Tuesday 21st May at 2.30pm, another free talk and document viewing at London Metropolitan Archives: ‘Feeding the Poor of London: Soup Kitchens in the Nineteenth Century’ by Philip Carstairs who tells us that if the soup kitchen was not invented in London it was perfected in Spitalfields, where Huguenots established the first for distressed silk-weavers. 

Julian Woodford

If you haven’t been to Greenwich or heard the story of the Huguenots who settled there, join Huguenot guide, Kate Boyle, on Saturday 18th May for a 90-minute walking tour. Kate will be waiting by Sir Walter Raleigh’s statue at 11am to reveal the fascinating story of the Huguenots of Greenwich. £10 donation.


Writing your family history can be a daunting exercise. Here are two events with The Gentle Author of Spitalfields Life which may help you on your way: a creative writing workshop: ‘Present your Huguenot Family History’ on Wednesday 15th May at 6pm, at London Metropolitan Archives. The session is free but booking essential. And ‘Learn to write a blog’ from Saturday 11th to Sunday 12th May Topics include how to write pen portraits and what a online writing can achieve. A special reduced rate of £250 is available to you, our supporters, many of whom are Huguenot descendants. Visit:

For details of all events, visit What's On Page for times, prices and meeting places. Huguenot Footsteps walks in Spitalfields, which take place on the last Sunday of the month, starting on Sunday 28th April and run until 27th October, meeting outside Christ Church at 12 noon. £10 donation.

Tim Kidd- Huguenot Guide/Lecturer. Image: Jeremy Freedman

Coming soon (details on website)


Saturday 8th June - Spitalfields Open Gardens £15


Saturday 15th June - ‘The Journeymen Weavers’ Story,’ a walk led by Julian Woodford. Journeymen were jobbing weavers who lived in north Spitalfields, Bethnal Green and Whitechapel. The few remaining houses where they lived and worked have great significance because they are the first live/work buildings and the first to be designed for a specific trade. This walk will visit some of these buildings, bringing to life the area’s turbulent history.  This event is part of 'Fantastic Feats' organised by the City of London Corporation


Friday 28th June – talk by Dr Robin Gwynn, the authority on Huguenots in Britain, at the Bank of England Museum, on the Huguenot founders of the Bank of England. Free.


Thursday 11th July - see artisans at work during a Private Visit to The Goldmiths’ Centre.  Spaces are always limited so do book early.  The visit is preceded by Huguenots of Clerkenwell walk at 11am, conducted by Neil Sinclair, meeting outside Farringdon station.


April to November - Christ Church, Spitalfields, Organ Recitals. A wonderful opportunity to hear the superb Richard Bridges organ.  For more information visit:  Peter Prelleur, appointed organist at Christ Church in 1735 and renowned author of The Modern Musicke-Master (1731), was born a Hugeunot in France but spent most of his life in England.


Saturday 7th September – Silk Festival, Sudbury, where speakers include the remarkable textile experts, Mary Schoeser and Kate Wigley. Mary has written a special feature dispelling the myth of why the Huguenot silk weavers left Spitalfields: click here to read it.


Wednesday 30th October  - We are delighted to announce that Lesley Miller will be the speaker at the 7th V&A Huguenot Lecture


We were asked...


Huguenots in Oswestry

Can you help? A reader is anxious to find out about the Minet family and the links with Oswestry. If you do have any knowledge, please contact


Support needed

Funding is being raised to commemorate Denis Papin, the Huguenot inventor of the pressure cooker which inspired the creation of the steam engine, with a permanent memorial plaque in St Bride's Church, Fleet Street. To donate, go to:


Randolph Vigne, who died in 2016, was a leading figure in the Huguenot world. The Huguenot Museum would like to thank everyone who contributed to the fundraising campaign to purchase a silver sauce boat, made in 1727, by Anne Tanqueray, in his memory. The sauce boat will soon be on display in the Museum alongside information about Randolph. Keep eye on the Museum’s website, or sign up for their email updates


A campaign has been launched to save the Bethnal Green Mulberry tree. To support the campaign, click here:


Palm Sunday in Spitalfields, 1844

Stella Herbert, a long time supporter of our work, came across this visual of Spitalfields in 1844. Our Trustee, Dan Cruickshank, has identified it as on White’s Row, near to Christ Church.


The excerpt from the image reads "In the neighbourhood of London, too, "palming' is still a practice on the Sunday before Easter.  The weavers of Spitalfields, leaving their murky workshops, customarily ramble into the fields and lowlands of Essex, on this day, to gather "palm," and inhale a better atmosphere.  Our artist has depicted a scene of the return of one of these parties.  The yellow catkins, or male-flowers, are more highly prized than the white, or female-flowers."

We were told...


New silk at Brighton Pavilion

Congratulations to Richard Humphries of Humphries Weaving, one of the four last silk weaving companies in England, who has contributed his considerable talents to the restoration of the Saloon at the Royal Pavilion Brighton, brought back to life to its original dazzling splendour.


Huguenot Town - Erlangen

Planning to go to Germany this summer? We have heard that the Huguenot town Erlangen is a beautiful place.  Perhaps more interesting to us Huguenots settled there over 300 years ago, bringing their crafts and talents as well as their French savoir vivre. For more information on the history of the Huguenots in Germany, visit:


New Site for Museum of London

Plans are well ahead with architects Stanton Williams and Asif Khan for the new Museum of London, which is moving to a new site at Smithfield in a few years time. We met with the Lead Curator of the New Museum to talk about how the Huguenots can be featured in the new space. Whilst there, Alex Werner also told that Mrs Fanshawe’s dress has been removed from display for conservation and has been replaced by a striking mantua made by the Spitalfields weavers. Well worth a visit!


St Julien’s Church, Southampton

A special commemorative service for the Huguenots is being held at St Julien’s in Southampton on Sunday 14th July at 2.30pm. This church was regularly used by French Protestants from the 16th century until the start of the Second World War.



Have you come across this French Huguenot ancestry Facebook group?  It could be helpful for finding and sharing information about your Huguenot ancestors.


Genealogist Dr Kathy Chater alerted us to three useful websites:

London Lives

Old Bailey Online 

Probate, Chancery and Exchequer sections of National Archives Discovery catalogue 

Do you know of other websites that could be of help?

Huguenots in Wandsworth

Good news! We have been told by the Conservation and Design Group for Wandsworth Council that funding has been awarded to repair the listed tombs at Mount Nod Huguenot cemetery. The area was well known for the Huguenot felt hat makers who settled near to the River Wandle. Shadows of the Huguenots are still present in the streets names: Barchard Street, Eglantine Road, Ferrier Street, Huguenot Place, Louvaine Road, Nantes Close, Osiers Road and Rochelle Close.

Mount Nod Huguenot cemetery

A booklet entitled ‘Huguenots in Wandsworth’ by Anthony Shaw is available at £1.50 from Wandsworth Heritage Centre. Contact


The Huguenot Museum has a shop selling a range of jewellery, books and other gifts including Huguenot cross jewellery and a number of Huguenot Society publications. These can be purchased by mail order by getting in touch with the museum on or 01634 789347.


The French Hospital in England: Its Huguenot History and Collections, by Tessa Murdoch and Randolph Vigne can be purchased directly through the website


Huguenots in Wilton

There are several houses in Wilton, Salisbury, with names associated with carpet making - Wool House, Weavers Cottage and even Huguenot Cottage. Chris Rousell’s research in Wilton Through Time tells us that between 1720 and 1730 a cloth factory at Quidhampton was the workplace of two French master weavers who specialised in hand-knotted carpets. The story goes that the 8th Earl of Pembroke had smuggled these weavers out of France in two large barrels, additional to a number he had reserved for wine, when he was refused to receive them on loan by the French authorities. The two masters taught the weavers in Wilton their craft and what became known as ‘Wilton Cut Pile Carpet’ is now world-famous.


Three books

Reginald Bosanquet was not the only notable member of the Bosanquet family; it is a family of influential high-achievers. Grace Lawless Lee has written about this important Huguenot family in The Story of the Bosanquets. Another good read is Ken Follett’s, A Column of Fire (available on Amazon) that is set in 16th century Europe with some insights on the religious turmoil of the time.  Nancy Bilyeau’s new novel ’The Blue’ is a thriller set in the the world of Huguenot porcelain makers in eighteenth- century London (available on Amazon).  Porcelain is also the subject of Dr Tessa Murdoch’s lunchtime lecture on 22 May at 1 pm at the V & A's Hochhauser Auditorium, the Sackler Centre.  We’re always keen to publicise books with Huguenot links so do let us know of any.


Thank you to…

…the Director of the National Portrait Gallery, Dr Nicholas Cullinan, for highlighting Isaac Oliver’s Huguenot ancestry in the exhibition catalogue for ‘Elizabethan Treasures.’ Oliver moved to London from France in 1568 with his Huguenot parents after fleeing persecution and went on to become a miniature painter of international fame, compared by his contemporaries to Michelangelo and Raphael. This ‘breathtakingly gorgeous’ exhibition features his work:


If you know of any other people or artefacts in museums or stately homes connected to the Huguenots please let us know. Contact:


…Adam Pollock. We know that there were Huguenots in Greenwich but we were surprised when Greenwich resident, Adam Pollock, told us how many lived in one street! Throughout the 18th century, the houses in Crooms Hill were nearly all inhabited by wealthy Huguenots. At No. 6, a Beauchamp was followed by an Arduvin, and then a Savary and at No. 16/18, a Delamotte moved in after Thomas Lanier, and so it goes on and on.


…Robin Nash, of the Huguenot Society of Australia, who corrected us to the fact that the Huguenots of Picardy had suffered persecution in France from 1716 onwards and so were eager to emigrate when the Scottish Board for Fisheries and Manufactures made their invitation for weavers to settle in 1727.

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

Modify your subscription    |    View online