Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Queen Victoria's Wedding (Part 5): Spitalfields Silk & Honiton Lace

A Vision in White
Queen Victoria in Her Wedding Dress, 1840
Photo Credit: Tuppence Ha'penny

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

At half past one, as his Bride steps over the threshold into the Chapel, Prince Albert may just catch a first glimpse of her behind Lord Melbourne. One wonders whether he smiles as he catches sight of her pale beauty. She must have been a vision in her elegant satin dress made of creamy white silk, her wreath of white orange blossoms, and layer upon layer of white Honiton lace (pronounced “Huniton”).

Her dress and veil were masterpieces made entirely in England under Her Majesty’s strict orders. During a time when the Industrial Revolution and the expansion of European trade routes were enticing many wealthy brides to import their dresses from France and their lace from Brussels, the dressmakers and textile workers in England were enduring great hardship.

The Queen, ever aware of her duty as Mother of her nation and quite possibly inspired by the novels of Charles Dickens, attempted to remedy this hardship on the advent of her wedding. {Duffy} Her Royal Majesty insisted upon purchasing the heavy white silk for her gown from Spitalfields and yards and yards of handmade Honiton lace from needleworkers in Beer, Devon.

Both Spitalfields and Devon had long been home to those famed weavers, the Huguenots, Protestant refugees who settled in South England in the 1600s after fleeing religious persecution in France. These skilled weavers diligently passed their secrets on to subsequent generations, but two hundred years later their kin were struggling to make ends meet.

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  1. Hi Honey, Just finished catching up this series. Very well done. I was especially fascinated by this segment. Keep up the great writing!

    1. Thank you so much, Mom! I'm glad you had some time to catch up, and I'm really glad you have enjoyed it so much!