This excursion will be back soon. In the meantime we’d be happy to organise a private tour for you. Please contact us on 020 7624 3978 | [email protected] to make a booking.

Riches to Rags – The Huguenot Silk Weavers of Spitalfields

(1 customer review)

Liverpool Street underground station, London (Bishopsgate west exit, top of the escalator)

Guided by Sue

Riches to Rags. Best possible shorthand for this Tour du Jour. Old Spitalfields is one of those London neighbourhoods where some of the “tributaries” lead straight into the 18th-century! One of those London neighbourhoods that’s a palimpsest. In short, it’s reinvented itself many times but if you know where to look – and how to look – you can effectively drill down and “sample” layer after layer of this great city. Its roots are mediaeval. But its great shimmering past – which floats up before us in everything from street names to houses to Hawksmore’s great church to weavers’ windows – was its days as the historic centre of the silk industry in London.

The industry was established already when the great influx of Huguenot refugees came from France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. (The great thing about a walk like this is that suddenly those dry-as-dust old historical terms are suddenly real, meaningful, human.) Their extraordinary weaving skills gave Spitalfields its great 18th-century reputation as a European centre of production of fine quality silks. (In passing, you might just think about the international implications: England’s gain was a huge loss for France. So much for “rulers” pandering to ignorant prejudices! Well, you can guess the rest. The walk chronicles the lives of the silk weavers from refugee rags to riches and back again. How their early Georgian houses were built and lived in – and the modern day fight to preserve what’s left of them in a fast-changing multicultural area. N.B. the walk takes about two hours and ends at Liverpool Street station.


Riches to Rags – The Huguenot Silk Weavers of Spitalfields walk takes place at 2.30 pm on Sunday, June 5.

The meeting point for the Huguenot  Riches to Rags walk is just outside the Bishopsgate exit of Liverpool Street Tube.


“London’s best city tours” The Telegraph

“the best in the capital” Visit London

“the unfailingly fascinating London Walks…” San Francisco Chronicle


If you can’t make one of the regularly scheduled, just-turn-up, public Huguenot Silk Weavers of Spitalfields walks do think about booking one as a private tour. If you go private you can have the Huguenot Silk Weavers of Spitalfields – or any other London Walk – on a day and at a time that suits your convenience. We’ll tailor it to your requirements. And – always with private London Walks and tours – we go to great lengths to make sure the guide-walker(s) “fit” is well-nigh perfect. Ring Fiona or Noel or Mary on 020 7624 3978 or email us at [email protected] and we’ll set it up and make it happen for you. A private London Walk – they’re good value for an individual or couple and sensational value for a group – makes an ideal group or educational or birthday party or office (team-building) or club outing.


A private London Walk makes a fab present – be it a birthday or anniversary or get-to-know-your-new neighbourhood gift or Christmas present or whatever. Merchandise schmerchandise (gift wrapped or not) – but giving someone an experience, now that’s special. Memories make us rich.


It’s not even close

1 review for Riches to Rags – The Huguenot Silk Weavers of Spitalfields

  1. Kenny

    My friend and I found this tour very enjoyable and fascinating. Our guide was Sue who talks about the history, urban planning and architecture of the Spitalfields area and the French Protestants (Huguenots). She covers the time-range from the 1600s up to the present day. She highlights many items you could easily walk by. She is full of super interesting facts and is a pleasure to listen to. We would have been happy to listen to her well past the allotted 2 hours!
    We strongly recommend this tour!

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