Now and Then 1975 – 2020
The cloth I knew as worsted takes its name from the village of Worstead in Norfolk where, from the Middle Ages immigrant Flemish weavers settled in the district to take advantage of the wool from Norfolk sheep.
Although the village itself is much older than that many of the large houses around the central square show that the premises were constructed by wool merchants, who in many cases lived above the shop.
When I first visited the large church of St Mary’s in 1975 the north aisle of the nave contained a number of looms and local enthusiasts continued to weave there on a regular basis. The first set of photographs was taken in 1975 during the Worstead Festival.
When I returned in 2015 and 2018 I was sorry to see that the weavers and their machines had left the church and now meet in a nearby village hall. I suspect the church had become unsuitable for the machines and the absence of facilities for the weavers would not have helped.
Nevertheless the ladies and gentlemen of the group are still hard at work – spinning and weaving, as well as making lace items. Usually a demonstration machine does appear in the church during the annual Worstead festival.
Although the last professional weaver, John Cubitt died in 1881 it is good to see that the craft still flourishes and is enjoyed by local enthusiasts.