The Huguenot Silk Weavers of Spitalfields – Riches to Rags

(1 customer review)

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

Guided by Sue

Walk Times

Day Walk Type Start Time End Time
31 March 2024 Tour du Jour 2.30 pm 4.30 pm Winter
21 April 2024 Tour du Jour 2.30 pm 4.30 pm Winter
26 May 2024 Tour du Jour 2.30 pm 4.30 pm Summer
29 June 2024 Tour du Jour 10.45 am 12.45 pm Summer
15 September 2024 Tour du Jour 10.45 am 12.45 pm Summer Reserve Online

Short read: Riches to Rags. Best possible shorthand for this Tour du Jour.

Long read: Old Spitalfields is one of those London neighbourhoods where some of the “tributaries” lead straight into the 17th-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 refugee Huguenots 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 takes place at 10.45 am on Sunday, September 15th.

To go on The Huguenot Silk Weavers of Spitalfields – Riches to Rags walk meet Sue 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 Peter or Mary or Niamh 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. Or indeed 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 The Huguenot Silk Weavers of Spitalfields – Riches to Rags

  1. Fiona Wilton

    Excellent Huguenot walk

    We went on this walk with Sue in October 23. She obviously knew her subject very well and made it entertaining and informative. We knew a lot already but still learned more and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. Congratulations also for managing a diverse group of people so everyone could see and hear her all the time. 2 hours flew by! More on this topic please!

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