The Lace Guild in Stourbridge is inviting the neighbours round… to view lace dating back hundreds of years!
On June 6, the quirky museum in Wordsley will open its doors to the local community from 6pm to 8pm. The Mayor Councillor David Stanley and his Consort Councillor Anne Millward will be in attendance.
Some of the lace on show dates back to the 1600s and has never been seen in public. The exhibits include: a rare coloured Honiton shawl, rumoured to have featured at the Great Exhibition of 1851; exquisite examples of Milanese lace; early 3D English needle lace; and a purse by Ros Hills, one of the only contemporary lace makers to be held in the V&A Collection.
In 1893 Emma Radford received the Freedom of the City of London for a beautiful lace fan : ‘her sprigs being the finest and most exquisite models of flowers and birds it is possible to produce in lace…’
Her ability to recreate sprigs of nature was superb. Her designs show the detail of each element by the inclusion of raised work to divide leaves, flowers, birds etc. She tended to use certain fillings to give light and shed to her designs. Many of her designs were not symmetrical to give a better flow.
According to Devon Heritage: ‘the Radford sisters, Susan, Emma and Ellen, of New Street, Sidmouth, were all lace manufacturers and probably acted as dealers, going around the town collecting up the work of outworkers.’
Between 1864 and 1878 Emma won nearly 30 prizes for her work at shows all over England.
Also on show at The Lace Guild are items from the nationally-important Spriggs Collection.
Spriggs was an enthusiastic collector of lace from the 1960s. He studied at Oxford and went on to become a celebrated medic. But his passion for antiques led him to gather a lace collection that has become an important national archive.
He says, in a forward to the Catalogue of Antique Lace: ‘Lace was seldom to be found in antique shops, since dealers found little sale for it.’ This lack of interest meant Spriggs was able to acquire rare and beautiful items with virtually no competition.
Many of Spriggs’s best acquisitions came from France, from a single supplier, a lady who was gradually getting rid of large amounts of fine lace. He would post purchases home, enclosed in letters.
Other pieces were bought at auction, charity sales or via adverts.
‘The excitement of forming a collection is a trivial matter, compared with the artistry, skill and incredible labour of producing these extraordinary fabrics,’ he observed.
‘Nothing finer or more delicate has ever been manufactured. Some doubtless graced the heads or wrists of noblewomen at the Court of Versailles; others helped to embellish vestments and altars of great abbeys and convents. If they could only tell their stories!’
Visit the Exhibition!
The Hidden in Stores exhibition is open to the public until June 21. The Lace Guild is open Wednesday to Saturday during the exhibition. The V&A Hidden in Stores Exhibition is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
Banner image: fan, (detail), Spriggs Collection