Thursday, 26 July 2012

Al Fresco Working on Kings Road

Now that we have a respite from the wet and the cold, let us imagine what the workers at the Weaving House, Tapestry Studio and St Cross would have been doing on such warm days.

Weaving a hand-knotted rug on a tapestry loom at Haslemere,
Art Workers Quarterly, 1902
(from Haslam, Arts and Crafts Carpets, David Black, London, 1991)
The steep slope behind this weaver is a sure sign of the location on Kings Road or Foundry Meadow.  The large tree trunk glimpsed in the top left hand corner, and the small section of building behind have not been positively identified!  This is the only photograph I have seen showing hand-knotted rug-making in practice at Haslemere.  The design being executed is likely to be by Godfrey Blount.  I have found no evidence of known Haslemere carpets in existence today.

Group of spinners and weavers at St Cross, Haslemere,
The Studio, XLIII, 1908
(from Haslam, Arts and Crafts Carpets, David Black, London, 1991)
The ladies in the photograph above can be clearly seen to be working on applique 'peasant tapestry'.  I have another version of this photograph on my blog, but this one taken from Haslam's excellent Arts and Crafts Carpets (David Black, London, 1991) is infinitely clearer, and shows the detail of what they were working on.  On the left we have a recognisable spinning wheel, on the right, the lady in white is working on what seems to be an different type of spinning wheel, one I have not seen before.  *Amended in September 2012*  The "different type of spinning wheel" is actually a hank winder – not a spinning wheel. The yarn is made into a hank on a hank winder before being dyed, then put back on the hank winder before being wound onto a cone or bobbin.  Sitting in the middle of the photograph may be Ethel Blount, she certainly has the hair colour but it is difficult to be certain.

I wonder if the photographs were staged outdoors or whether they depict routine outdoor working?

'Miss Flora Synge at her spinning wheel at Kings Road, Haslemere in 1917'
from  Janaway, John,  Surrey: A Photographic Record 1850-1920, Countryside Books, 1984

Finally we have a photograph which I have posted before of Flora Synge.  When I originally posted this photograph I had a comment made by her great niece saying that Flora "used to take her spinning wheel on the train when she returned home to Liverpool to visit her parents" which gives an interesting insight to how attached some of the members of the Peasant Arts movement were to their craft.  Behind Flora may be a wall of perhaps a building with some sort of climbing plant against it, or a very steep slope cut into the bank.


  1. Good to see you are continuing the momentum despite the other distractions of the Summer and that the above article returns us to basics of the spinning wheel and rug making. I am sure that on a nice day the peasants would have been outside making their masterpieces rather than being couped up inside.

  2. Thanks Dunc. Working outside seems infinitely preferable to the photographs of textiles being made in factories during the same period.

  3. Hello Kate!
    I just wanted to comment and say I absolutely love your blog, and your passion for the history of Haslemere :) I have recently moved to Kings Road (from Twickenham) and am in the process of trying to find out a bit more about my house. Everyone at the museum has been so helpful ---- and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all about the peasant arts movement on here too. If I manage to find anything exciting out about my house I will let you know! Regards, Katy

  4. Hi Katy!
    Nice to hear from another Kings Roadian! Yes do let me know if you find anything out, there is so much to still discover about Haslemere's past. Thanks for your comments about the blog: it's not very easy to follow, and I have been lax about updating the index, and unfortunately I have almost exhausted all the pictures of their work, which will make my future posts a bit dull! As my husband says, on such an obscure subject as the Haslemere Peasant Arts movement, it is amazing that anyone visits my blog at all, and yet I get about 1,500 page views a month. It's nice to know that they're not all from lost googlers.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...