Isle of Man Lace

November 8, 2009

Recently I was watching a replay of the Isle of Man TT with my husband. One of the British Isles, Isle of Man is located in the middle of the Irishisle of man Sea; 83 miles from Liverpool and 90 miles from Belfast. As the motorcycles were flying around the island’s roads I seemed to remember that there was such a thing as Isle of Man lace. I checked several sources, and sure enough, such needlework exists…or rather, existed.

The lace actually produced on the island was pillow made edging lace resembling Valenciennes lace in design and ground. This, however, was not the only lace on the island. A History of Lace originally published in 1864, the Encyclopedia of Victorian Needlework and A History of Handmade Lace published in 1900 all reported that Isle of Man was better known as a smuggling depot for lace. Apparently lace was brought from France (and other countries on the European continent) to Isle of Man. It was then smuggled into England under the name of Isle of Man lace. This occurred at a time when the importation of foreign laces into England was forbidden. Eventually the smugglers moved to the Channel Islands to carry on their illegal activities.

As it turns out, lace smuggling was more active than lace making on Isle of Man. According to all three sources the lace making industry never flourished and, in fact, became extinct.

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2 Responses to “Isle of Man Lace”

  1. Moranna said

    My, my,my what will they smuggle next! Very interesting but I wonder what it was that made you think of IofM lace whilst watching speeding motorbikes?!!

    • My husband and I were watching the Isle of Man TT motorcycle races on television and it reminded me that I had once heard of Isle of Man lace!

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