Richard Humphries MBE established Humphries Weaving 50 years ago in 1972. This year we celebrate half a century of creating sumptuous woven fabrics. Here we take you through the decades and reflect on some of our favourite ‘Golden’ projects.
The images above feature Richard Humphries at Ashburton Lodge handweaving in 1972, and checking jacquard cards in 1995.
Richard completed a 5-year design apprenticeship at Warner & Sons, Braintree, where he became the last design trainee, before the firm ceased manufacturing. At 20 years of age, he decided to buy up his old firms looms for scrap prices. With little cash but a whole lot of determination, he set up his business in Ashburton Lodge, the basement of an old house in Sudbury, Suffolk. The business can be found at the same location today, within the site of Sudbury Silk Mills.
Richard specialised in custom weaving for short orders, making highly specialised cloths in pure silk.
It wasn’t long before the word spread of his attention to detail, and soon he was creating pure silk velvet for the Prince of Wales, and plain silk lutes and damask for the Kings Small Bed Chamber at Hampton Court Palace in 1976. (Right)
Over the years the reputation grew, with prestige projects from as far away as Australia. Ceremonial fabrics and historic interior restorations remained core to the business but were complimented by one off projects for distinguished interior decorators in other noble fibres.
After three decades Richard recognised that Humphries Weaving now needed modernising, with the requirement for multiple state of the art looms to meet the demands of the market. This led to a move back to Sudbury Silk Mills, where the firm continued to flourish and build an ever-expanding portfolio.
Here the Gold Damask for the Family Parlour at Dumfries House was custom woven on State of the Art power looms. (Right)
The demand for fabrics for interiors needing unique colours and larger patterns grew, and the company expanded to nearby Castle Hedingham to bigger premises. Richard gathered around him skilled craftspeople for his team, and in 1992 the Royal Household restored their State Apartments with Humphries Weaving silk.
Another favourite golden project was woven here. On the looms you could see a vibrant Amber Damask weaving for the Amber Room at Osborne House. (Left)
As well as damasks and plain fabrics, another prestigious project is the Gold Moire Taboret Stripe woven for Drawing Room Furniture at Goodwood House.
Today, from Holyrood Palace in Scotland to the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, from Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland to Hampton Court Palace, you will find the very best British textiles, woven by the Humphries Weaving Company, during its first fifty years of trading.
Richard has invested time in passing on his skills and unique approach to his specialist team who share a passion for both fabric and customer relationships. Now with a team of highly trained specialists, the firm is set to continue its unique service in creating beautiful woven textiles, for both modern and classic interiors.
In this special Humphries Weaving 50 years we have also selected our charity partner as Suffolk Accident Rescue Service (SARS 999) www.sars999.org.uk who also reach the milestone of 50 years in May 2022. We look forward to sharing more about their important work in the coming year.