Shine A Light

By Jamie Everitt

What links these four things together? Perhaps one of my favourite objects in the Norfolk Collections Centre, the enigmatic silk press. Let us find out how.

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Norwich was once the most important cloth manufacturing town in Britain. Daniel Defoe, visiting in 1723, claimed that there were 120,000 textiles workers employed there. Although this was probably an exaggeration, there is no doubt that textiles were the backbone of the city’s trade for centuries.

In medieval times Norwich was renowned for its worsteds, a fine fabric made from combed wool. The name derives from the village of Worstead about 12 miles north of the city which, along with nearby Aylsham and North Walsham, first developed the trade in the 12th century. Carefully selected wools were prepared with a wool comb, a fearsome-looking instrument which had to be heated before use.

Wool comb

A wool comb from the collection of the Museum…

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