From Wool to Cloth: The Triumph of the Suffolk Clothier
with Dr Nicholas Amor
(Honorary Research Fellow, School of History, UEA)
at Sutton Hoo, Saturday, 6th May, 2017

Provisional Programme

09.50 – 10.15:          Coffee on arrival

10.15 – 11.15:          Why the woollen cloth industry was so successful in medieval Suffolk: looking at influential factors under the general headings of physical geography; economy and technology; and society.

11.15 – 11.40:          Coffee break

11.40 – 12.40:          The wool trade: looking at medieval sheep and their fleeces; wool growing in different parts of Suffolk; the Cistercian abbey of Sibton; woolmen in Suffolk and, in particular Bury St Edmunds; and the varieties of wool used in Suffolk’s cloth industry.

12.40 – 14.00:          Lunch break

14.00 – 14.50:          Cloth production and finishing: looking at the various stages of cloth production including carding, spinning, weaving, fulling, dyeing and shearing; and at notable craftsmen.

14.50 – 15.10:          Tea break

15.10 – 16.00:          The rise of the clothier: looking at those who became clothiers; what they did; why the London market was so important to them; how they spent their money; and what contribution they made to their communities.

c.16.00:                   Thanks and Close

About Dr Nick Amor

Dr Nick Amor is chairman of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History and an honorary fellow of the University of East Anglia.  He is author of Medieval Ipswich: Trade and Industry and From Wool to Cloth: The Triumph of the Suffolk Clothier, as well as various papers in the Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History.


When asked ‘What was best about the day?” at a previous Study Day by Nick people said:

  • Wide ranging knowledge and presentation pitched at good level for the audience
  • Well programmed and enjoyable day – good value.
  • Brilliant speaker
  • A wonderfully cultured way to spend a Saturday afternoon
  • Listening to Nick & chatting to like-minded people.  Loads of food for thought.
  • Very knowledgeable tutor.  Excellent time keeping
  • Very comprehensive.  Answered many questions about the fortunes of medieval suffolk which have puzzled me.
  • The quantity of information
  • Extremely good Study Day.  This was my first and hope to come again.
  • The lectures were well put together and very informative.  handouts very good too.
  • The depth of knowledge of Nick and his clarity of speech
  • A clear and concise speaker
  • Thank you for an excellent day.  Looking forward to the next one.
  • Fascinating local interest. good visuals. excellent Q-A session.  good handouts

Some Suggestions for Optional Background Reading

Amor, Nicholas R., ‘Merchant Adventurer or Jack of All Trades: The Suffolk Clothier in the 1460s’ PSIAH, 40 (2004), 414-36

Amor, Nicholas R., From Wool to Cloth: The Triumph of the Suffolk Clothier (Bungay: RefineCatch, 2016)

Bailey, Mark, A Marginal Economy? East-Anglian Breckland in the Later Middle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989)

Bailey, Mark, Medieval Suffolk: An Economic and Social History (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2007)

Bailey, Mark, ‘Technology and the Growth of Textile Manufacture in Medieval Suffolk’ PSIAH, 42 (2009) 13-20

Betterton, Alec, and David Dymond, Lavenham Industrial Town (Lavenham: Terence Dalton, 1989)

Bridbury, A.R., Medieval Clothmaking: An Economic Survey (London: Heinemann, 1982)

Britnell, Richard, ‘The Woollen Textile Industry of Suffolk in the Later Middle Ages’ The Ricardian 13 (2003), 86-99

Dymond, David, ‘Suffolk’s Cloth Industry: A History’ in Suffolk Threads Heritage Trail

McClenaghan, Barbara, The Springs of Lavenham and the Suffolk Cloth Trade in the XV and XVI Centuries (Ipswich: W.E. Harrison, 1924)

Munro, John H., ‘Medieval Woollens: Textiles, Textile Technology and Industrial Organisation’ and ‘Medieval Woollens: The Western European Woollen Industries and their Struggle for International Markets’, in The Cambridge History of Western Textiles, ed. by D. Jenkins, 2 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), I, pp. 181-324

Power, Eileen, The Wool Trade in English Medieval History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1941)

Thornton, Gladys A., A History of Clare Suffolk (Cambridge: W. Heffer, 1928)

Unwin, George, ‘Woollen Cloth – The Old Draperies’ in Victoria County History, Suffolk, ed. by William Page, 2 volumes (London: Archibald Constable, 1907), II, pp. 254-66