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Wiltshire Community History

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Question Date :

Monday 4th July 2011 10:03

What is the story behind the Flemish Weavers Houses in Corsham?

The great immigration of 'Flemish weavers' to Wiltshire is part of the folklore of the local cloth industry and largely without foundation. It was not until around 1657 that Paul Methuen, one of the greatest clothiers of his time, of Bradford on Avon brought a Dutch spinner to the town. In 1672 there was a Royal proclamation inviting Dutch artisans to settle in England and in 1673 a total of 23 came to Wiltshire and were settled with another great clothier, William Brewer of Trowbridge. A further 10 came to him in 1674. Some of these may have been sent to other local towns, including Corsham, and three definitely went to Bradford on Avon. The Dutch brought several improved techniques into the area which were quickly adopted as local practice.

In Corsham numbers 94-112 High Street (even numbers) are known as the 'Flemish weavers houses'. They range from early to late 17th century rubble stone houses with stone tile roofs and are Grade II* listed by English Heritage. It is hard to imagine that 10 of the Dutch weavers would have been sent to Corsham which was of minor importance in the cloth trade compared with some other local towns but one or two Dutchmen may have lived here and given rise to the present name.

Warp and Weft by Ken Rogers, 1986, 086023 2646



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