These days Spitalfields is unlikely to attract hordes of new arrivals for anything other than free craft beer, but once upon a time, way back in the 17th century, 25,000 French Protestant refugees set up camp there, started weaving the finest silk in the world, made their fortunes, and built some of the lovely homes and workplaces that are still around today. That cut a very long story short (you can read more about it in this week’s magazine), but suffice to say that the Huguenots helped make Spitalfields a great place to be, and this month, the Huguenots of Spitalfields Festival is celebrating their contribution with talks, tours, open days and exhibitions. If you’d like to get crafty rather than historical, head to The Big Weave in Spitalfields Market on Saturday April 13 (10am-5pm) to try your hand at weaving and to admire some examples of 18th century Spitalfields silk, on loan from the V&A. Another highlight is a rare open day (Sunday 21) at 19 Princelet Street, which was built in 1719 by Huguenot weavers. And we’re not even winding you up.
Events run from April 8-21. To find out more, visit our Huguenots of Spitalfields listing.