Monday, November 19, 2012

Queen Victoria's Wedding (Part 7): Spitalfields Silk

Queen Victoria's Wedding Dress
Made in Spitalfields
Photo Credit: East End Gems

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Though once a majestic outpost for the silk trade in London’s East End, by 1840 Spitalfields was well known as a slum. As Henry Hetherington wrote in 1832, “The low houses are all huddled together in close and dark lanes and alleys, presenting at first sight an appearance of non-habitation, so dilapidated are the doors and windows:--in every room of the houses, whole families, parents, children and aged grandfathers swarm together.” {Wikipedia}

It was Queen Victoria’s custom to dote upon the poor and to use her Royal position to aide in their plight. It is no surprise, then, that she chose to purchase her gown from Spitalfields. While she succeed in establishing a continuing trend for Royals and Nobles to purchase subsequent bridal gowns from Spitalfields, even in the late 1800s the area remained horribly oppressed. Writer Jerry White calls it “perhaps the foulest and most dangerous street in the metropolis.” {Wikipedia}

Queen Victoria’s choice to have her simple, but elegant dress made in Spitalfields did afford an economic impact in the area, but it would take several decades for the region to make a full recovery. Thanks to Robert Horner, who completed construction of a new market in 1893, and to the City of London which expanded the market in 1920, popular interest began to swell over the next 40 years, and today Spitalfields continues to be a center for textiles as well as a booming hub for craftsman of all types. {Spitalfields}

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