Last Saturday’s Showcase Shepton event set me thinking on what we’ve found so far about the quality, scale and reach of the cloth-making industry in our town in past centuries.
Here are a few snippets:
- Our area was making coarse woollen cloth by the 1430’s
- By 1490, SM was exporting wool to Florence in Italy
- Around 1550, SM had an influx of Huguenots who brought fine cloth-making skills
- By 1600, one family, the Strodes, owned fine cloth production facilities from Lower Darshill, i.e. under the present-day sewage works, in the west, through Bowlish to Longbridge and land beyond to Kilver street in the east. And from Downside in the north to West Shepton in the south
- By the 1630’s, the business was exporting to the Levant (Syria and Lebanon), the Barbary Coast (Morocco to Libya), Spain and the American colonies through the ports of Lyme Regis, Weymouth and Bristol
- Such was the quality of SM cloth, it was prized by the aristocracy who valued SM cloth rather than cloth produced elsewhere, and the bills paid by Charles I still exist
- In 1641, the industry in SM and the surrounding villages employed 60,000 people
2 Replies to “Quality Shepton 1”
As you know I think claims of 60,000 people working in Shepton and surrounding villages when the population of an extended Shepton area was certainly less than 10,000 may be rather spurious!
You may be right, of course, but the number is clearly written into the Richard Watts’ poem of 1641.