The Warner Textile Archive

warner

We visited the iconic Warner Textile Archive and took a peek at the place that inspired our irresistible new collaboration. Based in Warner & Son’s original mill buildings in Braintree, the Archive opened to the public in 2005 to share its incredible story. We met Kate Wigley, archivist and commercial manager and Robert Rose, archive manager to quiz them on the history of the Warner Textile Archive and our latest collection.

How many textiles would you say are at the archives?
Kate:
More than 100,000 items, including over 60,000 textiles and 10,000 paper designs. These numbers are still growing as we are still discovering and cataloguing more textiles.

Roughly, how many visitors do you have a year?
Robert:
Around 2,000 visitors a year.

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8There must be many, but what are your key highlights of the Warner Textile Archive?
Kate:
There have been many highlights from The Warner Archives, one in particular being the connection to the Royal’s. As Warner & Sons grew more successful, they enjoyed the privilege of weaving for every royal coronation since that of Queen Victoria. The Archives are the breadth and depth of a British design history reflected through the surviving work of highly skilled designers and weavers.

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Tell us a bit about the process of the collaboration between Oasis and The Warner Textile Archive?
Kate: The team from the Oasis head office sent over moodboards with various catwalk inspirations, I then looked at these and selected  designs which visually reflected the brief. There were over 100 designs originally chosen, which then went down to 40, and with the process of elimination, we were left with our final few designs.

The theme of designs is based around the 18th century style, ones which show unique texture. All the fabrics (some are woven not printed) have strong historical patterns, one is from Queen Victoria’s coronation and one is a paper design which is hand- painted copy of the embroidery. They are all strong, decorative and detailed pieces.

Tell us your favourite textile from the collection?
Kate
: (Stalbridge) It’s bright, highly decorative and has very strong colours, I like this one the most because of the history and understanding how the design worked for that century. So many designed in the late 18th, early 19th century were based on colour. Many were designed to shine in the heavy candle lit rooms; bright colour would stand out the most.

The chosen textiles for the collection:

  1. Black & Gold, this was woven for the Queen’s coronation and hung in Westminster Abbey.1
  1. The bright piece Kate mentioned as her favourite. It’s a copy of an 18th century design, woven in the 19th century and would have been worn in the ball room against a candle lit room. (Stalbridge) 2
  1. This design is 19th century but looks Elizabethan.3

 

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Warner & Sons opened their doors to visitors in 1953 to see the coronation fabrics being woven.

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The archive gallery is open to the public every Wednesday, and first Saturday of every month, 10am-4pm. For more information please visit.

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