History

The Old Weavers House & The Canterbury Weavers

A weaver"The Old Weavers' House" was the name accorded to no's 1, 2 & 3, originally one building. No 1 being riverside, at the King's bridge and indicates a significant historical period which began in the 16th century when weaving was undertaken here. "The Canterbury Weavers" was the name applied to no's 1 & 2 when a revival of the craft took place at the end of the 19th century.

Although dated on its sign as 1500, much of the structure of the building is earlier with the foundation having been laid in the 12th century. The fabric of the street frontage is 15th century with 16th to 20th century alterations and additions. The external river frontage has been much altered and extended from three to five gables, disguises the original 15th century fabric. In the interior of the building much of the original Tudor structure has survived with Jacobean, Georgian and later additions.

Weaving centers were established in Canterbury in the 16th The River Stourcentury when Walloon and Huguenot refugees settled here, as elsewhere. Known as "the strangers" these newcomers established their work places, especially by the river Stour, and soon had their looms at work weaving "Bayes and says, Grograines" and many other fabrics. The prosperity which their industry brought to the city was acknowledged in 1574 by the magistrates of Canterbury; and it is suggested that it was around this time when "the quaint old gabled house at king's bridge" became one of their places of work. With later-found evidence confirming it had been used as such. Prosperity peaked in the 1960s, but decline followed largely due to foreign imports. Then a fresh impetus was given to the trade in 1787 when John Callaway, master of the city silk weavers introduced his "Canterbury Muslins" soon of acclaimed renown. However due to changes in fashion and demand the industry was all but over at the start of the 19th century; and by this time an inn. The Golden Lion, was in the third part of the building.

The old GablesA period followed in which no's 1, 2 & 3 were used as separate trading or retail units during which no 1 was mainly a laundry. No 2 fruiterer's, and no 3 dairy outlet.

When weaving returned to the premises after Miss Edith Holmes and Miss Constance Philpot's established a weaving school, a revival of craft, for women and girls in need of work. Initially in other premises they moved in 1899 to no's 1 & 2 of the old building by king's bridge, thereby named the Canterbury Weavers, and linked to the past by the items found during restoration work: fragment of loom, bobbins, fabrics, Old English tokens and Dutch tiles, and traces of hoists to link with river-transport. The school closed in 1914, but the premises long continued as outlets for the woven goods, before becoming other retail units.

Today no 1, and nos 2/3 are restaurants, with no 2 the "Weavers Restaurant" retaining in its name much of Canterbury's history.