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Festival to commemorate silk industry in Sudbury

PUBLISHED: 05:30 09 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:06 18 July 2019

Sudbury has been a major hub of the UK silk industry since the 18th century. Picture:  ALUN CALLENDER/GAINSBOROUGH SILK

Sudbury has been a major hub of the UK silk industry since the 18th century. Picture: ALUN CALLENDER/GAINSBOROUGH SILK

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The silk industry in Sudbury is to be celebrated with a major festival telling its story.

Silk from Sudbury can also be found in 10 Downing StreePicture: GAINSBOROUGH SILKSilk from Sudbury can also be found in 10 Downing StreePicture: GAINSBOROUGH SILK

Exhibitions and talks by a range of experts including one from legendary London fashion house Vivienne Westwood will wake place on Saturday September 7.

Festival programme manager Ruth Philo said 95% of British silk is woven in Sudbury and the town occupied a unique place within the industry in this country.

"Sudbury is a very important town in British silk weaving, particularly currently," she said.

"While there are other places as well, Sudbury is the only town with the amount of working silk mills that it has.

As part of the festival there will be an exhibition of 18th century- inspired costumes by Vivienne Westwood at Gainsborough’s House Picture: VIVIENNE WESTWOODAs part of the festival there will be an exhibition of 18th century- inspired costumes by Vivienne Westwood at Gainsborough’s House Picture: VIVIENNE WESTWOOD

"Its heritage goes back to the 18th century in what is a very competitive industry."

The day will see an exhibition in St Peter's Church in Market Hill with displays by the silk mills.

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Dyers and spinners from Lavenham Guildhall will spin 'Lavenham Blue' wool dyed with woad and, and an exhibition of 18th Century-inspired costumes by Vivienne Westwood will take place at Gainsborough's House.

The Clothworkers Hall in London contains silk made in Sudbury Picture:  GAINSBOROUGH SILKThe Clothworkers Hall in London contains silk made in Sudbury Picture: GAINSBOROUGH SILK

There will also be Silk Walks around the town and an Architectural Heritage Walk looking at Sudbury's silk history.

This year has also seen the launch of film projects in Sudbury about the industry, including the Stories of Silk film scheme by Babergh District Council in which silk workers were interviwed by schoolchildren from Sudbury and Great Cornard.

The silk industry in Sudbury dates back to the 1770s when silk weavers moved from Spitalfields in London to escape strict rules introduced by local magistrates.

There are three working silk mills in the town - the Gainsborough Weaving Company, Stephen Walters & Sons and Vanners Silk Weavers, and together they produce 95% of silk manufactured in the UK.

As part of the festival there will be an exhibition of 18th century- inspired costumes by Vivienne Westwood at Gainsborough’s House Picture: VIVIENNE WESTWOODAs part of the festival there will be an exhibition of 18th century- inspired costumes by Vivienne Westwood at Gainsborough’s House Picture: VIVIENNE WESTWOOD

There are also two silk design companies - Humphries Weaving Company and David Walters Fabrics - that design high-end silk.

Sudbury silk was used for the wedding dresses of the Princess Royal and Princess Diana, singer Adele's dress for the Brit Awards and the dress worn by Michele Obama when she visited the Queen.

Ruth said: "The town is looking forward to sharing its rich history and welcoming visitors from both near and far."

For more details go to the Sudbury silk festival website.

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