Lacemaking was introduced to this area in the 16th century by Flemish and French Protestant immigrants fleeing persecution in Europe. They taught their skills to local people, and lacemaking quickly became an important cottage industry with men, women, and often very young children involved in its production, either full or part-time,  to supplement the family income. Bobbin lace-making became the trademark production method in this area with the material crafted on pillows stuffed with straw as the image above of a Brackley lace-maker shows. And the lace which became synonymous with the town featured the distinctive ‘Paisley Pear’ design…

And it was this very recognisable design which was thoughtfully incorporated within the framework of the staircase balustrades built into the newly-restored Town Hall…

Sentiment apart, by the latter part of the 19th c creeping industrialisation and the introduction of machine-made lace forced down wages. With changes in fashion and competition from foreign-made imports, this led to the inevitable decline and death of the industry within the town.

But it is a happy reminder of the town’s past that the new Marston’s hotel and public house at the top of the town has been named the Paisley Pear in honour of our lace-making history…