To mark the anniversary of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes 18th October 1685 and in memory of the large numbers of Huguenot refugees that came here in the seventeenth century  the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres presented a mulberry tree to Christ Church, Spitalfields.  Please read more about the significance of the mulberry tree in the link below from The Gentle Author:




Top row, left to right:

  1. Christ Church, Spitalfields, where Huguenots were baptised, married and buried, and where Huguenot Peter Prelleur (1705-1741), a musician and composer, was its first organist when the church opened in 1729.
  2. A chalice from the Eucharist, central to the Christian faith, to represent the commitment and courage Huguenots brought to practising their religion.
  3. Name of charity, formed in 2013, to highlight the contribution of the Huguenots who settled in Spitalfields.
  4. Lamb of God – the name given to Jesus in the Gospel of St. John – representing the Huguenot commitment to their faith.
  5. The Jamme Masjid mosque at the end of Fournier Street; built as a Huguenot Chapel (L’Eglise Neuve) in 1743-4, it later served as a Protestant church, a Wesleyan and a Methodist Chapel, then a Synagogue, and was converted into a mosque in the 1970s. The changes in use represent a response to the altering religious needs of the community. The inscription ‘UMBRA SUMUS’ is taken from the sundial on the erstwhile Huguenot church and is a quote from Horace meaning ‘We are shadows’.

Second row from the top, left to right:

  1. Representing Swan Street, a Spitalfields street where Huguenots would have lived. Many other street names in the area have Huguenot links, such as Rochelle Street, referring to La Rochelle in France, Ligonier Street, honouring Earl Ligonier, a Huguenot and the first Commander in Chief of the British Army, Weaver Street reflecting their principal craft and Fournier Street, named after a Huguenot benefactor.
  2. 1598 is the year The Edict of Nantes was invoked by Henry IV of France. It granted Huguenots the right, previously denied, to practise their faith in a predominately Catholic nation. Through the Edict, Henry aimed to promote civil unity.
  3. Initials of premier textile designer Anna Maria Garthwaite (1688-1763) who lived in Princelet Street, and whose designs for silk were woven in Spitalfields by Huguenot weavers.
    1. The 1598 Edict of Nantes, which had offered Protestants in France a level of protection to practise their faith since 1598, was revoked in October 1685 by Louis XIV. This drove a forbidden* exodus of Huguenots from France and increasing oppression of those who remained.
    2. Illustrating Hare Street, a Spitalfields street where Huguenots once lived.

* The Protestant religion was forbidden.  Leaving the country was forbidden (on pain of death or the galleys). They had to convert or lose everything they owned.

Third row from the top, left to right:

  1. Representation of the extraordinary silversmithing and other metalwork skills that Huguenots, seeking refuge in London and other parts of the UK, brought with them, such as the work of the Courtauld family of silversmiths, now much prized in museum and gallery collections.
  2. A gardener, representing the Huguenot interest in horticulture. Huguenots introduced the first flower show to England. Daniel Marot, a Huguenot, was an architect and designer and responsible for the design of the gardens at Hampton Court Palace.
  3. A reference to Psalm 9:9 – ‘The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble’ – which embodies the Huguenot trust and belief in their faith, despite persecution, and for many the need to flee their home country as refugees to be able to practise their religion in safety.
  4. See number 12.
  5. An illustration of the many clockmakers amongst the Huguenots seeking refuge in London, who brought their tools with them, and restarted their businesses, including makers such as Simon de Charmes (1670 – 1734).

Bottom row, left to right:

  1. A cloth merchant with a customer, representing the significant impact of the Huguenots on the silk industry in Spitalfields and other areas of England, including Norwich and Canterbury, as they introduced new methods, French fashions and extraordinary skill in silk weaving and design.
  2. An illustration of the type of design Anna Maria Garthwaite (see no.8) produced for the silk weavers of Spitalfields; she was particularly inspired by nature.  Many Huguenot houses kept pots of flowers in front of their houses and a singing canary in a cage in their window.
  3. The Huguenot cross: a symbol of their religion.
  4. See number 17.
  5. Representation of two Huguenots listening to a preacher, illustrating their obedience to their faith and commitment to practising it in the face of adversity and oppression.

Huguenots of Spitalfields plaque 2015 by Paul Bommer

An illustrator and printmaker with a strong link to Spitalfields, Paul Bommer taught himself how to create hand made, hand painted ceramic Delft tiles especially for this commission. As well as highlighting the Huguenots oft-forgotten plight as refugees from persecution, Paul wished to convey and celebrate the Huguenots rich and varied contribution to British society.

The Huguenots of Spitalfields is a heritage and educational charity founded in 2013. It celebrates the significant contribution of the Huguenots – the first refugees – made when they settled in England, escaping religious persecution. They brought skills, talents, and creativity that have left a lasting legacy. The charity is dedicated to making this history relevant to today. Visit:

Reg. Charity No. 115180

April 2016


Sew Beautiful and Useful: William Morris Textile Workshop
The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) in partnership with The William Morris Society
28 March 2017
Kelmscott House, London
£100 pp

The SPAB is delighted to partner with The William Morris Society to present a textile workshop at Kelmscott House in spring 2017. Led by Susie Vickery, textile artist and Fellow of the Society of Designer Craftsmen UK, this workshop will offer a unique opportunity to explore William Morris's work as a designer and his designs, and for participants to create their own appliquéd and embroidered panels, inspired by his textile designs, to take home. Basic hand sewing skills are required, but no other prior experience is necessary. All fabrics, materials and equipment will be supplied.

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