Stitch this! Lace-making making a comeback in Wheathampstead pub

PUBLISHED: 21:00 28 October 2015

The Swan Pub in the centre of Wheathampstead is now hosting lace-making sessions

The Swan Pub in the centre of Wheathampstead is now hosting lace-making sessions

Photo supplied

Beer and bobbins both feature at a 15th century pub where the traditional craft of lace-making is seeing a revival.

Sally Shambrook, landlady of the historic Swan pub, High Street, Wheathampstead, had a pool room which was “not very popular”.

So she decided to offer the space to community groups, including women who meet once a week to make lace.

Sally said: “We brightened up the former pool room and turned it into a function room, which is available for people to hire.”

Although she admitted it was an unusual base for such a hobby, Sally said it was good to see lace-making classes taking place in the historic pub, “as it’s a dying art”.

Among those attending classes is Val Dywell who, upon telling her sons she was going to the pub to make lace, said they ‘roared with laughter’.

Interested onlookers are apparently instantly put off the craft by the intimidating-looking large volume of lace bobbins displayed on lace pillows.

But the group’s teacher, Jenny Davies, explained: “You are only working four bobbins at a time, working across the pillow - it’s easier than it looks.”

While the group of women - men are also welcome - are continuing the once-traditional craft to help keep the skill alive, more members are welcome to learn how to make lace.

As one local said: “Lace making will never be the craft it was but with a little help from the Swan this lovely, relaxing craft may be kept alive for a few more generations.”

Lace making and straw plaiting were once everyday occupations in the village scene, including a plait school on Wheathampstead Hill.

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