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History of Lopham Linen on display at Diss Museum

PUBLISHED: 11:29 21 August 2019

Lopham Linen is the subject of a display at Diss Museum. Picture: Norfolk Museums

Lopham Linen is the subject of a display at Diss Museum. Picture: Norfolk Museums

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Weaving together strands of local history the story of Lopham Linen is the subject of the latest community cabinet display at Diss Museum.

Lopham Linen artefacts on display in the community cabinet display. Picture: Diss MuseumLopham Linen artefacts on display in the community cabinet display. Picture: Diss Museum

The display includes artefacts linked with hemp and the process of making linen, plus some small items made in North Lopham in the early 19th century.

Lopham Linen has a unique history. Many villages had a cottage linen industry, but the master weavers of the Lophams were the forerunners of organised business, and great entrepreneurs.

Lopham Linen artefacts on display in the community cabinet display. Picture: Diss MuseumLopham Linen artefacts on display in the community cabinet display. Picture: Diss Museum

The firm of TW & J Buckenham of North Lopham was appointed linen manufacturer to HM Queen Victoria from the start of her reign.

Linen was traditionally made from the fibres of hemp or flax plants. The display explains that the finest linen comes from hemp that grew particularly well along the Waveney Valley.

Hemp plants were harvested in early autumn and the fibres often then soaked in water - 'leeching' - in a hempit. Letchmere in North Lopham is the obvious locally surviving such hempit.

Fibres were then fit to be 'spun' into yarn. The processes could be carried out by one family, as a traditional cottage industry, but bigger, more complex looms were used at bigger co-operative businesses like TW & J Buckenham of North Lopham.

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