Fàilte! (Welcome!)

Fàilte! (Welcome!)
This blog is the result of my ongoing research into the people, places and events that have shaped the Western Isles of Scotland and, in particular, the 'Siamese-twins' of Harris and Lewis.
My interest stems from the fact that my Grandfather was a Stornowegian and, until about four years ago, that was the sum total of my knowledge, both of him and of the land of his birth.
I cannot guarantee the accuracy of everything that I have written (not least because parts are, perhaps, pioneering) but I have done my best to check for any errors.
My family mainly lived along the shore of the Sound of Harris, from An-t-Ob and Srannda to Roghadal, but one family 'moved' to Direcleit in the Baighs...

©Copyright 2011 Peter Kerr All rights reserved

Monday, 6 December 2010


In the previous piece on Tapestry Weavers I posed the question as to what had led the ladies from Harris to Bushey? A little further examination of that little village in Hertfordshire produced a possibility which, although highly conjectural, I thought I would describe:

In 1886 a remarkable house was conceived and by 1894 people were living in it. It was known as Lululaund and was built for the artist  Hubert von Herkomer who was linked with the Arts & Crafts movement. Lululaund has been described as an 'Arts and Crafts fairytale home' .

In 1899, The Land Magazine had published the Duchess of Sutherland's account of The Revival of Home Industries and the newly-founded Scottish Home Industries Association, inspired by Ruskin's Arts & Crafts movement,  had 'Mrs S Macdonald' as its champion in An-t-Ob or 'Obbe'. FWL Thomas had died in 1885 and in 1890 the widowed Fanny Thomas married James Flowers Beckett and moved from Leith to Sussex but remained linked to Harris at this time via her Tweed depot in London.

The pieces were in place, therefore, for seven skilled young ladies from Harris to find themselves working in Hertfordshire producing items for the extraordinary residence of an artist named Herkomer. I have no proof, and have contacted the museum in Bushey for assistance, but at least I now have a possible explanation where before there was none.

Update: The weavers at 39 Park Road were living within half-a-mile of Lululaund as can be seen on this Google Map ...

Update2: There was 'The British and Irish Spinning and Weaving and Lace School' in Bushey as can be seen on  p241 of 'Hertfordshire in History'. The 1901 census shows No 7, High Street, Bushey as 'Weaving School' and the 'Tapestry and Other Weaving Mistress' was the maiden 49 year-old Clive Bayley who had been born in the 'Indies'. I think this probably solves the mystery!

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