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Garden City Collection Visit – 7th November

November 12, 2015

The guild took a tour around the Garden City Collection last weekend. The Collection archive has more than 250,000 artefacts related to Letchworth Garden City and is in the process of digitising these so researchers from all over the world can access them. Currently more than 50,000 items are online at

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Fabric designed and woven by the St Edmundsbury Weavers.

We started the tour of the Study Centre in the downstairs store where there are numerous items that have a connection to Letchworth, for example: prams made by a Letchworth factory, portraits of Ebenezer Howard and other notable figures in Letchworth’s history, as well as paintings of the local area and a large chimney. If anyone knows any history about the chimney and how and why it came to be part of the collection then do let the Collection know.

As you might expect from the worlds first Garden City there were a large number of architectural plans, these went into vast detail even including the design for the door knockers! We took great delight in comparing the plans for The Settlement (where we meet) to the reality that was built. One of the highlights of the visit for me was to see the maps and aerial photographs of the town and watch the development of the Garden City through time.


Upstairs at the Letchworth Garden City Collection

Upstairs there were some wonderful examples of Arts and Crafts furniture, along with ceramics made in Letchworth and of most interest to us as a guild: a textile archive. This includes the work of the St. Edmundsbury Weavers who moved to Letchworth in 1908. The Garden City Banner designed by Edmund Hunter is so impressive and being able to study it closely and see the detail was a real treat, previously I’d only seen it in a black and white postcard.

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Detail of work by the St Edmundsbury Weavers.

We also saw some fabrics designed by the company that had elements of theosophy in design and symbology, plus some small floral embroideries whose provenance I failed to note but were delightful. As ever with these visits it’s so hard as a textile lover not to touch and not being allowed to take photographs!

Photography supplied courtesy of  Garden City Collection

Our next event is Festiwool 2015 in Hitchin this Saturday, 14th November. Do come along and have a go at spinning!

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