The Weavers – 1-3 St. Peter’s Street. From 1500
Notes: The Weavers is one of the most famous and most photographed of Canterbury’s buildings. It was built – so all the books say – in 1500, and was intended to house weavers who had come from Flanders or France to flee religious persecution and/or to find work. They were welcomed and given special rights and privileges, and were numbered amongst the ’Strangers’, i.e. foreigners who came to work in Canterbury.
They were expected to deal with their own lawbreakers. As in Sandwich and other towns in the area, they were important to the local economy… England had a lot of wool but not the technology to weave it, so they ’imported’ the expertise. The leaning building in Palace Street was also designed for a weaving family of French origin.
To see an old view of it look at the print of All Saints Church which used to stand on the other side of the river from the Weavers. The print shows how the building looked in 1780. This building is typical of that period of design – a shop front onto the street, and behind it a hall.. in fact there are three buildings here, of more or less the same design.
The building was horribly restored inthe 20th century, using wooden floorboards as ’timbers’, bolted on. But you can see what it was like originally on these pages. I have put on these pages some old postcards which I like, and on the next page some old postcards of the interior.This old postcard shows the building before it was ’restored’. Compare the timbers with the photo below, of the restored building floodlit – completely different pattern. The original building. above, has bulges, an old style roof and so on.
And notice that there are only two sets of windows… the photo below (left) shows the extension built at the back. The photo below (right) is again an old view… I don’t know if it is older than the one above, but it seems to show no timbers. They are plastered over.
Quiney speaks of this building – ”No. 1 continues to the rear along the bank of the River Stour with a seventeenth century extension; the gables belong to a remodelling of 1561”. But which extension? He can’t mean the last two gables in the floodlit picture above, because the other pictures show that that extension is more recent (post 1900). Again, compare the photos above (restored) with the photo below (before restoration – taken in 1900). Different timber pattern… look above and below the sign in the photo below (for a laundry) and you will see the timber pattern is different.