Hontion Lace: The finest of the English laces by Annette Lally.
Fine lace has been made in Honiton and throughout East Devon since the 16th century. It has always been highly sought after by the very wealthy and has been patronised by royalty. Queen Victoria ordered her wedding veil and a flounce for her wedding dress to be made of Honiton lace. She commissioned many other pieces during her reign including a robe with a Honiton lace overskirt for the Christening of her daughter the Princess Royal. That same Christening robe has been used by the Royal Family for generations and has been worn by many royal babies including Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harrry.
Honiton lace is a part lace. That is, the lace is made up of many small parts or motifs (traditionally called sprigs) which can be joined together to create large lace items such as a collars, veils, flounces etc. At the height of the Honiton lace industry, large pieces of lace would be assembled by the lace manufacturer from sprigs made by many individual lacemakers in their own homes. Traditionally Honiton lace designs were taken from nature: flowers, flower sprays, butterflies and birds featuring prominently along with a few inanimate objects such as bells, ribbons and bows.
Each sprig of Honiton lace is a complete piece of lace in its own right. Nowadays the sprigs are often used as framed pictures, used in the lids of trinket boxes, made into jewellery items and used in many other creative ways.
Although there is no longer a Honiton lace industry and it is impossible to buy this lace, it is not difficult to make – although being very fine it is slower to make than other laces. Honiton lace is now accessible to all – not just the very wealthy, it has become a beautiful and fascinating hobby.
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