Just across from the entrance to Nottingham Castle stands the medieval ‘Lace House’ a timber framed medieval building which had been used as a small museum called the Nottingham Lace Centre where it depicted the history of lace production in Nottingham. But since my last visit it has closed and the City Council now have the building up for sale.
Nottingham lace making was famous across the world. Lace making developed from knitting hosiery which started in Tudor times in Nottingham. The invention of the stocking frame in 1589, reputedly by the local Rev. William Lee of Calverton, lay at the heart of industrialisation in the City. By the late 1700’s hose production employed thousands of framework knitters in and around Nottingham. Poor conditions in 1811 led to Luddite riots in the city, with many knitting frames being smashed.
Because of changes in fashions and increasing competition from the Lancashire cotton industry, the hosiery industry began to decline and framework knitting increasingly became a depressed industry. Local entrepreneurs looked to make lace on the stocking frame. Lace had for centuries been made by hand and it was hoped that the production on machines would be much speedier and cheaper. In Victorian times saw a dramatic expansion of the lace industry and around St. Mary’s Church in Nottingham the streets were lined by towering lace warehouses which exported the material all over the world. The industry declined after the First World War and this was exacerbated by the Second World War and many firms closed in the 1950s. Once the heart of the world’s lace industry during the days of the British Empire, the Lace Market area of the city is now an area of city apartments, with fashionable pubs, bars, clubs, restaurants, shops and hotels.
It doesn’t look like they will be displaying lace making in the Lace House anymore once it is sold.