Historical information

This sample of lace trim is Torchon lace in the Cluny style with the geometric pattern and the classic wheat ears/leaves appearing between the filled ā€˜vā€™ shapes. At 5cm in width, it would be a beautiful trim or insert piece on bed linen and undergarments. It would certainly have been made on a Barmen machine. The Barmen lace machine was developed in Germany on the 1890s. Its bobbins imitated the movement of the bobbins of a handmade lace maker and it made perfect copies of Torchon and other similar bobbin laces. This style of bobbin lace was the simplest to make and therefore the cheapest lace to buy.

In the Elizabethan era, the wearing of lace was reserved for the nobility and anyone of lesser standing than a knight who dared to wear lace would be publicly whipped. As the years passed, the restrictions lessened gradually and in the late Georgian and Victorian eras, ladies of the nobility sought to perform good deeds by teaching women and girls of the poorer classes to make lace and thus it became known as beggars lace. Bobbins were expensive and use was made of animal bones and even fish bones to perform as bobbins therefore another common name was bone lace. Many noble women entered a religious order and these nuns would also teach to skill to willing participants as well as making lace for clerical garments.

Although the monarchy restricted the wearing of lace for some time, many royal figures in history did a great deal to popularise it. Two noteworthy examples were Queen Adelaide (1792-1849) and Queen Victoria (1819-1901).


The Amess family owned Churchill Island from 1872 to 1929. This lace collection was owned and contributed to by three generations of Amess women - Jane, Janet and Unity. Jane was wife of Samuel Amess, who was the first Samuel Amess to own Churchill Island.

Physical description

machine made Torchon and Cluny lace trim with both edges similar, v shape design and 8 braid geometric design in centre