Skip to content

By Royal Appointment: Devon lace-makers

Start Date 08 February 2020
End Date 01 November 2020
Venue Royal Albert Memorial Museum
Location Exeter, UK

By Royal Appointment is part of RAMM’s year of untold stories which focusses on narratives less often heard. The multidisciplinary show explores and celebrates Devon’s lace industry through the eyes of Devon lace-makers past and present, including those who made lace for the royal family. After her marriage to Prince Albert on 10th February 1840, Queen Victoria described her wedding clothes in her journal. They included a deep flounce of lace made at Beer on the East Devon coast, and supervised by dealer and manufacturer Jane Bidney.

This exhibition unravels the threads of some previously untold stories, revealing the beauty and technical skill of Devon lace and the history of the people who wore it. A replica of Queen Victoria’s wedding dress and lace, worn by actress Jenna Coleman in the ITV production ‘Victoria’, features in the exhibition. Portraits and photographs of Queen Victoria lent by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II from the Royal Collection show Victoria’s great affection for her Devon made lace which she re-wore on many subsequent occasions, including her Jubilee in 1887.

The displays, drawn from loans from public, from private and from RAMM’s extensive lace collections, also give voice to the unacknowledged makers who often suffered hardship and poverty, disability and discrimination. Men, women and children all made lace, and the trade often provided work for people who were physically less able.

The exhibition was made possible by support of The Textile Society and Devon Lace Teachers, and generous loans from Her Majesty The Queen; Allhallows Museum, Honiton; Fairlynch Museum and Art Centre, Budleigh Salterton, Exeter Cathedral, Woodbury C of E Primary School and private collectors.