Hilary's Diaries - Hilary Townsend President of Stalbridge History Society
Titles by Hilary Townsend
Stalbridge was always famous for the high quality of garments produced here. Stockings obviously, then came glove making, when succeeding generations of the same family produced beautiful work. An outstanding example of cream leather gloves made by Miss Jessie Webber in the last century is now featured in the Dorset Museum.
The skill of the inhabitants was added to after 1685 when the King of France revoked to the Edict of Nantes and Huguenots families had to leave France to avoid persecution because they were Protestants. The French who left, highly skilled and experienced in carpet making and silk work, settled in places like Spitalfields, Axminster and Wilton. French Protestants named Cluette and Seigneur came to Stalbridge, took the names Cluett and Senior and added to the pool of talent.
In 1942 Miss Joan Senior who lived in Gold Street made my confirmation dress from remnants of silk material - it was exquisite. The lovely Creed and Ten Commandments in the Parish Church were made by a member of the Cluett family.
In the 19th century Stalbridge had more than 30 shirt makers famous for their work and that an outstanding example has come down to us. Mrs Flora Eavis, married to the local gunsmith and locksmith, who lived at the bottom of Barrow Hill, has left us a sample of richly patterned fabric made into a shirt for her great-grandfather’s wedding day when he returned to Stalbridge after the Battle of Waterloo.
The fabric is covered with £.s.d signs and illustrations of £5 Bank of England notes. I don’t know much about sewing but looking at this design how could one make it into a shirt without cutting banknotes in half?
© Hilary Townsend