The Tale Begins


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The Tale Begins

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©V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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More on William Sheldon >

A wealthy and locally influential man, William Sheldon lived on the Worcestershire-Warwickshire borders. Born around 1500, he had seen the decline of cap weaving which had once been a major industry between Coventry and Worcester. It had suffered from the Englishman's preference for purchase of imported items, putting local men out of work.


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Sheldon's will, written in 1570, established a loan fund, available to those who had served, were serving or would in future serve an apprenticeship with Hyckes. Later, he gave use of his manor house at Barcheston, Warwickshire, rent free to Hyckes, on condition that cloth fabrics, tapestry and arras were woven there.

His plan could be compared to a modern Rural Regeneration Scheme with Capital Incentives long before those phrases were familiar.

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The plan, set out in his will in 1570, provided the means. Success depended on the man entrusted to set the enterprise on its feet, Richard Hyckes. He was almost certainly a Flemish weaver.


©V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London


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on tapestry >

The story which follows begins with the revival of interest in craftsmanship demonstrated by the Arts and Crafts Movement. When Sheldon's will came to light in 1908, the project it outlined attracted great attention.


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