Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting HG to 80360, or email us Click here for more details »
Halstead: Curious tales remembered in author's latest book
9:00am Wednesday 21st August 2013 in News
Halstead became a thriving centre of silk production after George Courtauld opened a mill in the 19th century, but the town had been famous for its fabrics centuries earlier.
Protestants from Holland fled to England to escape religious persecution in large numbers during the 16th century.
Many of them set up as weavers in Colchester, but in 1576 they were given permission to up sticks and move to Halstead.
The arrival of the superior Dutch weavers caused a stir in the town, where a local cloth trade already existed.
Locals in Halstead were bitter that the Dutch weavers, because of their reputation, were allowed to put a seal of quality on their products.
The stand-off between the two groups soon reached a boiling point when the Dutch weavers discovered the Halstead tradesmen had been putting counterfeit seals on their products.
When the furious Dutch weavers packed up and left in protest, the Halstead residents thought they had triumphed.
But they soon discovered their own trade had been boosted by association with their Dutch counterparts, and demand for Halstead cloth plummeted quickly.
The people of Halstead swallowed their pride and begged the Dutch weavers to return, but it was all in vain.
It was not until several centuries later, when Queen Victoria’s silk mourning gowns were produced in the town, that Halstead regained its reputation.
The story of Halstead’s Dutch invaders is just one of the tales of the quirks of our county in historian Paul Wreyford’s latest book, The A-Z of Curious Essex.
This is his fourth local history book, having previously documented Essex’s most gruesome villains.
The A-Z of Curious Essex, by Paul Wreyford, is published by The History Press and is available to buy now.
Comments are closed on this article.