Honiton

Honiton was called Honetone in the Doomsday book, and means farm belonging to Huna. It grew up along the Fosse way A Roman road leading from Lincoln to Exeter (Lindum to Isca Dumnoniorum).

Honiton became famous in the 16th century for it high quality lace. The skill was introduced to the town by Flemish immigrants. The Flemish and the Dutch have always played an important part in the British economy as they invariably brought skills with them such from tapestry weaving to drainage ditch engineers.

By the 17th century thousands of people made lace in their homes as part of a cottage industry but because it is such a time consuming process it was done along side other work such as farming.

Queen Victoria loved Honiton lace and had her wedding dress and veil made with it. (This is also where the tradition of wearing a white wedding dress came from, before then you just wore your best, or had a nice dress in your favourite colour made). Over the following sixty years she commissioned many pieces for both her private and her ceremonial wardrobes.

A local custom in Honiton is the hot pennies ceremony which takes place on the first Tuesday after the 19th July in the High Street and dates back to King Stephen (1135 – 41). When landed gentry would throw hot pennies from windows to local peasants in order to amuse themselves. The custom also brought people to the town for the subsequent fair.

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