Huguenots of Spitalfields

May 2019 Newsletter - Issue 21

Huguenot Education and Heritage are the two main drivers of our charity so you can imagine our concern at hearing that one of the few remaining journeymen weavers’ houses, at 3 Club Row, may be demolished. Journeymen weavers’ houses are the first live/work buildings and the first to be designed for a specific trade. If you have not been able to attend any of our talks to hear the story of these hard-working weavers or joined a walk to see what is left of their houses, click here:

Club Row - Image courtesy of The Gentle Author

We are particularly frustrated as the charity submitted an application to Tower Hamlets to have seven journeymen weavers’ houses Locally Listed in January 2017 and, despite frequent approaches, we received a negative reply only last week.


Please will you help us in our efforts to save Huguenot heritage? Please write to Tower Hamlets and object to this planning application. Click this Spitalfields Life link for the full story and guidance on how to object:


To learn more about the jobbing weavers, their abject poverty and how they survived when there was no work to be had, click here: Julian Woodford is hosting a walk as part of the City of London Corporation's Fantastic Feats Festival - Journeymen Weavers’ Houses on Saturday 15 June leaving Shoreditch High Street Station at 2pm, £15.


Sudbury Silk Festival, 7 September

Discover the long tradition of silk weaving in the Suffolk town that stretches back to the 1780s and is still a thriving industry today with four working silk mills. Go inside buildings that were silk weavers’ cottages and textile merchants houses and visit current silk mill shops. This day-long programme includes exhibitions, talks, silk walks, a silk architectural heritage walk and workshops.


We are always looking for additional help with our special events, such as the Spitalfields Gardens Open Day, Sudbury Silk Festival and the Huguenot Day in Rochester, our schools programme and research. Please contact if you have a few hours to spare occasionally.


Key Dates for your Diary

Spitalfields Gardens - Image courtesy of the Gentle Author

It is not often possible to catch a glimpse of what is behind some of the listed terraced houses in Spitalfields but on 8 June, 11am to 4pm, to support cancer charities, a dozen houses will open their gardens as part of the National Garden Scheme’s Open Gardens Day. You can pay at the door or in advance via.

We are thrilled that eminent historian, Dr Robin Gwynn, who is visiting London from New Zealand for a short while undertaking research, has made time in his busy schedule to give a Lunchtime Lecture on Friday 28 June at 12.30pm at the Bank of England Museum, There is no need to book and no need to buy a ticket – it is a free event – but just arrive early as this will be popular talk on the Huguenots who helped establish the Bank of England. Whilst waiting treat yourself to a walk round this gem of a museum beforehand.

Sir John Houblon credit Bank of England Museum
Walk & Draw with Piero D'Angelo

One of the most fun events in the Huguenot Month Festival programme last October was the Walk & Draw with Piero D'Angelo as our tutor - it was a magical experience and hugely rewarding for all of us. Join us on 17 August at 11am, £20 - whether you are a complete beginner or skilled artist.

We were asked…


I have French friends visiting but with limited English, do you conduct walks in French?

Paul Baker is our French-speaking guide and conducts private or group walks in French for visitors, residents and corporate companies. Contact

Huguenot Guide - Paul Baker

I can’t make weekend walks; do you ever arrange walks on a weekday?

Yes, we do occasionally. Our next one takes place on Friday 21 June at 12pm, we meet outside Christ Church, Spitalfields £10 donation

The dates for the regular Sunday Huguenots of Spitalfields walks are: 26 May, 30 June, 25 August, 29 September and 27 October - all start at 12 noon.


When is Boughton House open to the public?

The Duke of Buccleuch’s stunning house and gardens near Kettering, Northampton are open to the public from 1 – 31 August and contain many fine examples of the work of Huguenot artisans. We thought it was worth making the trip to see the red, silk Boughton bed, in which William III reputedly slept.


What is the meaning of Norton Folgate?

Huguenot guide, Neil Sinclair, tells us that the derivation of Norton Folgate appears to be a contraction of the Old English words Nor and Tun, meaning North and Farm. Folgate is possibly derived from the manorial family name Foliot. An alternative explanation describes Folgate as derived ‘from the Saxon word Foldweg, a highway, an allusion to the old Roman Road Ermine Street that passed through this place.’

What is the meaning of the Huguenot Cross?

Elizabeth Randall, Fellow of the Huguenot Society, has helped to clarify the many word-of-mouth interpretations that we have heard. Click here to read on.


We were told...


Nantes is a great place to visit!

So says Huguenot guide-lecturer, Paul Baker, who recently took a trip to Nantes and saw within the famous Château de Nantes the building in which the famous Edict of Nantes was signed in 1598. There are some items of Huguenot interest in the Nantes History Museum, also inside the 15th-century castle walls.

Huguenot Cross

Huguenot objects in Bristol

Bristol Culture was the first to respond to our request to find out where Huguenot treasures are located: the Huguenots are mentioned in the Life Gallery in M Shed and the European Ceramics Galley on the top floor of Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. We are always keen to gather information for the website so do tell us if you know the location of other Huguenot objects.


The Lesturgeon Clock

We were intrigued to hear that a rare time piece by Lesturgeon was shortly to come onto the market and we are delighted to hear that the clock has been purchased by a local resident and is now much admired. The engraving is truly exquisite and the complexity of the workings is impressive. Spitalfields is not usually known for its clocks and watchmakers so we are keen to know more when Richard Edmunds launches his new book entitled The Huguenot Clock Makers of Spitalfields.


Chamberlen Family

Kate Boyle, our Huguenot guide in Greenwich mentioned this remarkable Huguenot family, who designed the midwifery forceps that bear their name even today:


Thank you


…to the Charles French Trust and Allhallows and Aldgate Foundation for awarding Huguenot of Spitalfields two grants for separate primary school projects. Fundraising is always challenging so you can imagine the pleasure at hearing that we have been awarded funds. The theme of our dedicated educational programme is to highlight how the poor, jobbing weavers lived, worked and worshipped.


…to Julian Woodford, Philip Carstairs and the Gentle Author for their presentations as part of London Metropolitan Archive’s Word on the Street: Ordinary People Festival. Click here for Philip Carstairs’ blog about soup kitchens and their role in feeding the poor weavers of Spitalfields: Julian undertook specific research and gave a riveting talk on the poor Huguenot weavers and the Gentle Author’s approach to writing up family stories was inspirational.


…to Victorine Martineau and also Richard Bryant, of the Oswestry Family & Local History Group, who responded to our call for information about the Minet family. Victorine suggested contacting the Minet Archive at 52 Knatchbull Road, Lambeth SE5 9QY, 020 7926 6076 which was opened in 1890 by William Minet, a founding member of the Huguenot Society. Richard wasn’t able to find any Minet family members but did find information on the Minett family (e.g. Thomas Minett died 29th March 1860 aged 73yrs. Formally Morda Mill – Morda is about a mile or two from the centre of Oswestry. J.T. Minett died 3rd August 1894 aged 73yrs. He died at Oswald House, Woodford, Essex. Formally of Morda Mills).


…to Adrienne Slater who four years ago telephoned offering help four years who has now left to move on to work on other heritage projects. We wanted to publicly acknowledge her tremendous contribution.


…to Graham Nicholls for sharing a familiar Huguenot family challenge: Antoine Dufosse was my x5 great grandfather, who worked for the Earl of Pembroke and invented a special loom. Cruel twist of fate meant that by the time my x2 grandfather applied to the French Hospital he couldn’t even prove his Huguenot ancestry not even with a letter from the (now deceased) Earl, future generations have been equally unsuccessful.


…to Benedicte Fougier, Curator of the French Protestant Church Soho, for pointing out this useful website on Huguenot history:


…to Peter Duval, who recently retired as Deputy Governor from the French Hospital. Peter Duval's family has been involved with the French Hospital since 1777 and when he was elected a Director in 1973 he was the 16th Duval Director. During his time in office, he has seen the French Hospital expand significantly, growing from 39 flats to 60 and adding a residents' common room and garden. In the last 5 years, he has overseen the establishment of the Huguenot Museum in Rochester - the first of its kind in the UK.


A posthumous and sincere thank you to Keith Neuhofer who passed away recently. Keith was so kind, generous and helpful with his IT and creative expertise to us in the early days of the charity. We really appreciated his support at a crucial time for the charity. We won’t forget him.


Books recommended to us…


The forthcoming biography of Louis XIV by Philip Mansel, King of the World: The Life of Louis XIV, to be published in July 2019, features a chapter on the Huguenots, and stresses that the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes was his biggest single mistake.


Also by Philip Mansel, Dressed to Rule, Royal and Court Costume from Louis XIV to Elizabeth II. “A brilliant book” Karl Lagerfeld.


A fully searchable digitised version of the Wandsworth Historian containing many references to local Huguenots is available on DVD, price £5.00 plus p&p. Contact .


Isabelle Janvrin and Catherine Rawlinson’s book, The French in London, from William the Conqueror to Charles de Gaulle, contains a chapter on the Huguenots’ contribution to England and lists many places where the Huguenots have left their traces including museums, galleries, statues and blue plaques.


Paul C.R. Monk’s trilogy, The Huguenot Chronicles, opens in 1685 and is composed of Merchants of Virtue, Voyage of Malice, and Land of Hope which is also available in audiobook format.


The Silk Weaver, by Liz Trenow, was recommended to us by Adam Pollock. Liz’s family were weavers over many generations in Sudbury and she has written a charming tale with expert descriptions of silk weaving, no doubt based on her knowledge growing up of her family’s business.


Two Huguenot Brothers: Letters of Andrew and James Coltee Ducarel, 1732 – 1773. James Coltee Ducarel’s letters sent from France to his elder brother Andrew in London are an unknown resource for the study of the Enlightenment and the French Huguenots in the mid 18th century.


Mike Steele alerted us to the publication of The Streets of London: The Booth Notebooks, which provide a real insight into 19th century London and the way in which the weavers lived and plied their trade.


Other events which may be of interest….


Dr Robin Gwynn, ‘Extremes of Poverty and Wealth among Huguenot Refugees,’ 15 June, 2pm, Huguenot Museum, Rochester


Digital Textile Design, 21 – 22 June, 10.30am to 5pm, V&A Museum


Medway Print Festival, 22 June, drop in from 10 am to 2pm, Huguenot Museum, Rochester


Celebrating the 200th birthday of Joseph Bazalgette, 27 June, 2pm, London Metropolitan Archives


French Connections in Soho, 3 July, 2pm, Society of Genealogists


Visit the French Protestant Church in Soho, 5 July, 11am


Bizarre and Curious Silks exhibition by Hannah Robson, 5 July - 21 September, Rochester Art Gallery and Craft Case


Bazalgette's Embankment: Blackfriars to Westminster, 21 August, 11am


Reading & Understanding French Family History Documents with Dr Kathy Chater, 31 August, 2pm, Society of Genealogists

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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