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Honiton Lace Museum

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Uncover Intricate Textile Arts at Honiton Lace Museum

In a 17th century house in Honiton’s historic East Devon market town, the interesting Honiton Lace Museum celebrates the intricate handmade lace art synonymous with the area. Displaying stunning examples of Honiton lace alongside vintage tools and machinery, it sheds light on the evolution of an exacting craft at which Honiton’s skilled artisans excelled for centuries.

Try your hand at making bobbin lace, view delicate antique lace garments first-hand and learn about the lives of lace-makers whose creativity turned Honiton into a lace centre famed across Britain. Here’s your guide to this inspirational textile museum.

external honiton lace museum

Getting There

Honiton Lace Museum occupies a prominent historic building on High Street in the centre of Honiton town. Well signed in town, there is a pay and display car park directly behind the Museum on King Street.

By Car

From the M5 junction 29, Honiton is just 15 minutes drive via the A375 and A30. Turn off at signposts for town centre car parks to reach the Museum.

By Train

Honiton station is on the London Waterloo to Exeter line with regular South Western Railway services. From there, the Museum is an easy 10 minute walk into town.

Opening Times and Prices

Honiton Lace Museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10:30am – 4:30pm between April and October annually.

From November – March, reduced hours of 2pm – 4pm operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays only. The Museum is closed entirely each January and February.

Entry to the museum is free.

lace museum

History of Honiton Lace

Intricate handmade bobbin lace became synonymous with Honiton from the 17th century onwards. Prized for its delicate floral designs incorporating fine threads, Honiton lace graced royalty’s collars, cuffs and gowns across generations. Even Queen Victoria wore Honiton lace at her wedding.

Traditionally a cottage industry for women, the lace spoke to the skill of generations of lace-makers from the area. However, by the mid 20th century, demand declined and only a few specialists continue the craft today.

The Honiton Lace Museum opened in 1982 to preserve the town’s textile legacy. Real lace displays and demonstrations keep Honiton’s name intertwined with the intricate lace that made it famous.

Lace Displays

Delicate historically important lace abounds in the Museum’s collection spanning 400 years of evolving designs:

  • Antique lace christening gowns, wedding veils and collars offer a glimpse into intricate, exquisite Honiton lace work.
  • Period displays follow lace fashions through from the 17th century to Honiton’s Victorian prime and later revival.
  • Style variations from geometric Bucks Point lace to elaborate floral garlands.
  • Lace maker’s sample cards illustrate the patterns and stitches unique to Honiton.
  • Fragile lace parasols, mittens, handkerchiefs and linens demonstrate Honiton’s artistry.

Watch lace-making demonstrations to appreciate just how time-consuming creating such intricate textiles is.

stitching lace

Making Bobbin Lace

In addition to observing the experts, visitors can try their hand at the lace-making process themselves in the Museum’s workshop area:

  • Learn how to wind bobbins and handle the equipment.
  • Follow step-by-step guidance to create your own small Honiton lace piece to take home.
  • It takes concentration and coordination to master the multiple bobbin movements.
  • Persevere to experience the satisfaction of unraveling your final creation.

Booking is advisable for the 1-2 hour workshop if you want guaranteed participation on the day.

visit honiton lace museum

Kids Activities

Younger visitors can discover the creativity of lace too:

  • Dressing up area with Victorian children’s costumes.
  • Craft zone for making paper lace artworks.
  • Children’s trail with lace-themed quizzes and challenges.
  • Activity backpacks with magnifying glasses for inspection.
  • Hands-on exhibits like identifying mystery lace samples by touch.

Engaging multi-sensory opportunities inspire the next generation of textile artists.

Museum Shop

The shop continues your fibre art immersion with beautiful textile gifts:

  • Locally made bobbin lace items from delicate jewellery to bridal pieces.
  • Lace-decorated accessories like scarves, bags and hairpieces.
  • Yarns, threads and equipment to continue handcrafts at home.

It offers quality handmade mementoes representing Honiton’s intricate lace legacy.

With its wealth of lace set against the story of the dedicated lace-makers, Honiton Lace Museum provides an illuminating day out appreciating the creativity, skill and heritage behind intricate fibre arts.

honiton lace museum

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Lace Museum accessible for wheelchairs? – Yes, a star lift is in use and if necessary, they can lend you a wheelchair during your visit.

Is the museum suitable for young children? All ages are welcome and there are some great interactive displays for children, but probably anyone under about 5 may not enjoy it as much as poeple aged 5 and above.

Are dogs allowed in the museum? Assistance dogs only are allowed.

Other nearby attractions

  • Beer Quarry Caves – Fascinating ancient manmade caves near Beer used to mine Beer stone since Roman times. Guided tours provide an insight.
  • Killerton House – Elegant 18th century country house and gardens near Exeter with impressive costume collection, adventure playground and trails.
  • Pecorama – Quirky miniature world near Beer with model railways, gardens and exhibitions. Ride the narrow gauge railway taking in pretty views.
  • A La Ronde – Unusual 18th century 16-sided historic house in Exmouth with intriguing shell and feather artwork collections.
  • Otterton Mill – Idyllic ancient working flour mill alongside the River Otter containing craft shops, art gallery and eateries. Picturesque spot for coffee.
  • Bicton Park Botanical Gardens – Beautiful ornamental gardens from the 18th century with glasshouses, woodland walks, play zones and railway.
  • Crealy Adventure Park – Top family theme park near Exeter with over 60 rides and attractions including animals, rollercoasters and water fun.
  • Donkey Sanctuary – Charity donkey sanctuary in Sidmouth where you can meet and learn about the rescued residents. Fun and educational visit.

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