Wool and Clothiers

As the town grew, so did the manufacture of woollen cloth, and it became associated with the town for the first time. One of the foremost clothiers of this period was Alexander Langford, whose great granddaughter Mary married Henry Hyde in Trowbridge Parish church. Their son, Edward Hyde, was made Earl of Clarendon by Charles II, for supporting him during his long exile, and becoming Chief minister to the King and subsequently one of England’s chief historians. His daughter, Anne Hyde, married the Duke of York, later James II, and became mother to the last Stuart Queens, Mary II and Anne. By the Tudor period, Trowbridge had grown wealthy and the town had developed a reputation for fine quality woollen cloth. During the reign of Charles II, Flemish wool workers came to Trowbridge and improved the carding process.

Carving on the Town Hall depicting weaving

Carving on the Town Hall depicting weaving

As the woollen industry became more important, clothiers started to dominate the trade and became very wealthy. Many clothiers built fine houses including The Parade, which Pevsner considered one of the finest row of clothier’s houses in the country, and the house that now serves as Lloyd’s bank was said to have been the finest Georgian building in Wiltshire. At this time, many of the cloth processes took place in the workshops behind these buildings or in the workers own homes. By the 18th century, machinery had revolutionised the production of cloth, though weaving still required hand looms.