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20th Century Lace

By Ann Day

We believe that our Lace Guild Museum has the best collection of 20th century lace in the United Kingdom...

This is because much of our lace has been given to us. Some was bought, but most has come to us from members or their families, not only donating antique lace they have collected, but also lace they have made.

At the beginning of the 20th Century women wore lace when they could, and a lot of it was machine-made; some of it incredibly beautiful. The Nottingham machine lace industry is said to have produced the best lace curtains in the world. Making handmade lace is so much slower, and it was so much more expensive that lace makers were unable to earn enough to live. Much of what they produced was of inferior quality, using as few bobbins as possible, with thicker, poorer quality threads and motifs widely spaced.

Several lace industries were set up to help the lacemakers, the best known probably the Bucks Cottage Workers Industry based in Olney. We have several pieces of lace from there, plus bills, and even a label from tinned vegetables that accompanied an unsolicited parcel sent in around 1941!