The annual Feltmakers’ Luton Lunch was held on February 7, a Thursday on this occasion, chosen to avoid the Friday afternoon rush-hour traffic. We met as usual at the Luton Masonic Centre and Thirty-four Liverymen and guests sat down to a delicious three-course lunch provided by our regular caterers.
For the third year running, our guest speaker was Veronica Main, Curator of Clothing and textiles at the nearby Wardown Park Museum, which contains a large number of hats. Veronica demonstrated some hats made of straw plait dating from the late nineteenth century and made in Luton and Dunstable and then delighted the audience by showing a lady’s hat which may prove to be of considerable importance. This had reached her at the Museum in a postal package, having been found in a wall in an old house near the Essex coast. It probably dates from the early eighteenth century or even earlier, and much of the fabric is of plant material which must have been imported. The hat will be investigated with radiocarbon dating and minute examination of the stitching, and may yield new information on hat manufacture three centuries ago. Veronica’s talk was fascinating and drew several questions from a clearly engaged audience. The Master proposed the vote of thanks and congratulated the organisers of what again proved to be a convivial and successful event.