Coggeshall Lace

Example of Coggeshall lace. Example of Coggeshall lace.

Coggeshall is a town in Essex (England) noted for its tambour embroidery on net, called Coggeshall lace or Coggeshall tambour lace, and sometimes Coggeshall embroidery. The industry was started around 1812, when a French (or possibly Walloon) refugee called M. Draygo (also written Drago) and his two daughters came to Coggeshall.

They taught local cottagers how to decorate net with chain stitch using a tambour hook. Draygo’s son-in-law, Charles Walker, later emigrated to Limerick, Ireland, and established a similar industry there (Limerick lace).

Throughout the nineteenth century, net embroidery was made in ‘tambour rooms’ in homes in Coggeshall and beyond. Middlemen provided threads and nets for the embroiderers and commissioned more complex pieces for individuals and shops. The Coggeshall ateliers were productive into the early twentieth century, but the popularity of Coggeshall lace started to decline due to changes in fashion, namely the widespread use of machine made laces and the adverse economic situation following the outbreak of the First World War. By 1919 the production of Coggeshall lace had almost died out and many workers started to produce tambour beading.

In the 1930's Miss Edith Surridge tried to revive the craft by providing employment for lace workers and encouraging young women to learn the skill. She brought Coggeshall lace to the attention of the British Queen Mary (1867-1953), who commissioned two lace dresses. In addition, a gift of three Coggeshall lace handkerchiefs was sent to Princess Marina (1906-1968), when she married the Duke of Kent in 1934. However, the start of the Second World War (1939-1945) meant that net and threads were unavailable and the commercial production of Coggeshall lace died out. It continues as a home craft into the early twenty-first century.


Digital source of illustration (retrieved 6th July 2016).


Last modified on Friday, 05 May 2017 19:05