Maude Egerton King (1876-1927)

Founder of Haslemere Weaving Industry and Peasant Arts Movement

Maude Egerton King<br/>(Courtesy of Haslemere Museum)

Maude Egerton King
(Courtesy of Haslemere Museum)

Maude Egerton King (neé Hine) moved to Lower Birtley near Haslemere in 1894 and later built a home with her husband, Joseph King, called Sandhouse near Witley. She had been brought up in London, the daughter of the well-known landscape painter, Henry Hine.

After being taught to weave by a Swedish teacher she was inspired to teach other women to weave and founded the Wheel and Spindle Club in Sandhouse. Alongside her sister Ethel they endeavoured to teach local women to weave to provide an alternative career to domestic service. Ethel’s husband, Godfrey Blount, was an artist and designer who designed well known tapestries and textile pieces which were woven by the women they employed. These were sold at retail shops in Haslemere and London and exhibited at the famous Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society shows.

Inspired by John Ruskin and the Arts and Crafts movement, the weaving workshops were founded on the principles of fair wages and aimed to revive traditional handicraft skills, which had been in decline since the Industrial Revolution. Maude also employed teachers to go out into other villages across the country to teach weaving.

A legacy of buildings which were erected to house the weaving industry remains in Haslemere today.

Maude was also an author and poet, publishing her first book of poems aged 18. She was the editor of The Vineyard, a monthly journal published by the Peasant Arts Society in Haslemere to promote its principles, which ran from 1910 until 1922.

Linen Table Napkin 1920s made by the Haslemere Weaving Industry (Courtesy of Haslemere Educational Museum)

She was a major contributor to the publication, writing many poems, stories, songs and non-fiction articles on country living.

Maude and her sisters hosted Harriet Blatch, the famous American social activist and suffragette, in Haslemere in 1905. It is thought she was interested to investigate the weaving workshops they had established and see the conditions the women worked in.

Maude died in 1927 and shortly after her death her friend Greville MacDonald wrote a book in her memory. In it he describes Maude as believing “that the spiritual worth of spinning and weaving, of building chairs and tables, or of carving vessels or crucifixes for the home, was absolute…so the humblest home was to her more sacred than any church or shrine or altar.” The legacy of her passion for weaving is evident today in the examples in Haslemere Museum’s collection and the numerous books and pamphlets which she wrote.

Maude is just one of the talented Surrey Women featured in Surrey Museums Month 2017. To find out more about the event and other celebrated Surrey Women click here.

Extract courtesy of Haslemere Educational Museum

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