Spinning research project starts in Hatfield

A HATFIELD-BASED academic has received a grant from the European Union to conduct a pioneering five-year study into the history of the spinning wheel.

Professor John Styles, who works in the University of Hertfordshire’s social sciences, arts and humanities research institute, has been given €823,150 by the European Research Council to fund the project, which started on Tuesday.

It is hoped the study will provide a comprehensive history of hand spinning in England between 1400 and 1800, as well as dispelling the myth that the women who undertook this work were nothing but ill-educated bumpkins.

Prof Styles said: “When people today think about spinning wheels, they usually think of Sleeping Beauty, a fairytale princess, pricking her finger.

“In fact, working by hand at a spinning wheel was what most ordinary women in England did for the 400 years before the Industrial Revolution.


You may also want to watch:


“This was a skilled occupation, vital to the success of the textile industries that made England rich. Yet historians often dismiss hand spinning as part-time, unskilled work for ignorant country women.

“They treat it as an inefficient obstacle to increased productivity, ripe for replacement by the mechanical inventions of the Industrial Revolution.”

Most Read

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus