Historical information

This piece is amachine made copy of Valenciennes bobbin lace with many-legged spiders and a simple oval and circle pattern. Again it is worth noting that hand-made Valenciennes lace was very costly and time consuming (e.g., a pair of ruffles valued at £160 would take the lace maker ten months of fifteen hour days to complete) therefore the advent of machine made copies was welcomed although the Barmen made lace was more expensive that that made on the Leavers machine.

Valenciennes was a lace making town on the French- Flemish border which in 1780 had 4000 lace makers but due to the revolution of 1789 the number was reduced to 250. It was initially Flemish but was claimed by the French, however the centre for Valenciennes lace eventually diverted back to Ghent and Ypres in Belgium.

Due to its lightness and neatness Valenciennes lace, although very expensive was simpler to produce than Mechlin lace, and was never used for expensive garments. Instead it was applied to bed linen, lingerie, and the fichu (a woman's scarf wrapped over the shoulders and fastened in front).This lace was favoured by Queen Victoria, the Empress Eugenie and others as a trim on undergarments. The basic undergarments were stays, shift (smock, chemise or shirt), petticoat and drawers although drawers were not in general use until the mid-19th century when the tendency of the fashionable crinoline to become airborne or to tilt itself at embarrassing angles made a covering garment for the nether regions essential. Drawers were just two cylinders for the legs, joined at the waist with the lower ends frilled or trimmed with lace.


Churchill Island has a large lace collection, which was added to by three successive generations of the Amess family - Jane, Janet, and Unity. The Amess family owned Churchill Island from 1872 to 1929. Jane was wife of Samuel Amess, who was the first Samuel Amess to own Churchill Island. The examples of lace are notable for their variety, and provide representative examples of techniques from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries.

Physical description

Machine made Valenciennes lace