Honiton is famous for its lace, so much so that it was used to create Queen Victoria’s wedding gown. Were you aware of just how special Honiton lace is? Here’s everything you need to know. 

Honiton lace is a type of lace known as bobbin lace, which is made by braiding and twisting lengths of thread which are wound on bobbins. Historically, the lace created in Honiton focuses on scrollwork and depictions of natural objects like flowers. The type of bobbin lace most commonly used in the making of Honiton lacework is part lace, which is identified by the ground or plaits being separate from the motifs and joined to them with knots. Once made, the pieces are joined together, which means that the lace has no limit in size and can be made by a team of lacemakers, something that makes Honiton lace stand out from other types of lace. 

It is believed that Honiton lace actually originated in Belgium, after the art of making lace was brought to the town by Flemish refugees in the 16th century. To start with, every piece of Honiton lace was created by hand and while machines were introduced into the making process, handmade designs made a come back in the 19th century, thanks to Queen Victoria. At the height of production, it could take up to five hours to produce one square centimetre of lace. Large pieces could take up to 1000 hours! 

In the 19th century, Honiton lace incorporated a variety of stitches, including whole stitch, stem stitch, lace stitch, fibre stitch, long plaitings, square plaitings, broad/cucumber plaitings, Honiton ground, star ground, Dame Joan ground, buckle stitch, Flemish stitch, turn stitch, chequer stitch, fibre stitch and Antwerp diamond stitch. Honiton lace is no longer produced commercially, though there are imitation Honiton lace products produced elsewhere in Devon. 

You can find out more about lace making at Honiton’s Allhallows Museum. Make sure to visit in the New Year and find out more about the fascinating history of the town. 

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