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English rugs were not produced until the late 16th century and early 17th Century. Main centers for production were located in Axminster, Wilton, and Kidderminster. Distinctive patterns on these antique rugs include deep golden coloration and asymmetrical designs.
Carpet Weaving in England was now flourishing and around this time Kidderminster was also beginning to become a centre for carpet making. The town had had a weaving industry since the 16th century and Kidderminster carpets are mentioned as early as 1635 in an inventory of a bedchamber of a Lady Lettice, though the precise meaning of the word cannot be clear. Carpet weaving in England was now flourishing and around this time Kidderminster was also beginning to become a center for carpet making. The town had had a weaving industry since the 16th century and Kidderminster carpets are mentioned as early as 1635 in an inventory of a bedchamber of a Lady Lettice, though the precise meaning of the word cannot be clear. In 1751 Richard Po Cocke, in his Travels through England, mentions that the town was famous for carpets and by 1800 the carpet industry had become the town’s major employer, although the trade was threatened by the Earl of Pembroke’s Wilton Carpet Manufactory.
It is known that one manufacturer, John Broom, went to Brussels and Tournai to learn the new techniques, although only two of the many original firms were to survive the technical innovations of the Industrial Revolution later in the century. In 1760 the Royal Society held an exhibition in their Great Room for a fortnight, showing two carpets from each of their leading premium winners-Whitty, Moore and Passavant. Whitty wrote of his success “These repeated successes so advanced the reputation of my carpets, that I had a constant and almost uninterrupted demand for many years.”
The fasion of the times was to have the pattern of the carpet reflect the painted ceiling. Thomas Moore, Whittys main competitor was a friend of Robert Adam, who directed business to Moorfields where he could personally supervise the production of his designs. Moore’s factory declined when Adam died in 1792 and was sold for other purposes in 1795.
The other premium winner did not survive either: Passavant does not seem to have made much after 1760 and went bankrupt the following year. However, Whitty’s Axminster factory continued to prosper. Within five years Whitty had established his factory as a leading concern in the towns economy. It was the custom for the finer completed carpets to be taken to the Congregationalist Church to be spread over the pews for all to admire and for thanks to be offered for their completion before they were sent to their destination.
On August 13 1783 George the 3rd and the Queen had visited the Factory, which had resulted in a flood of orders. The Crown Prince, later George the 4th, order several carpets, including one for the Throne Room at Carlton House.