Learning about the Lace Market

As part of my CEKE fellowship, I’ve been learning about the Lace Market area of Nottingham, in preparation for prototyping some new experiences to try out there. I’ve learned a lot of interesting stuff already. For anyone interested in this area, I would recommend a book called “The Lace Market, Nottingham”, by Geoffrey Oldfield of the Nottingham Civic Society, and available in the tourist information office. It is worth mentioning that the  civic society themselves seem to have done an enormous amount of work to retain the character of the Lace Market, and have helped to avoid development work which would have been disruptive to its nature, including the construction of a large trunk road straight through the middle of it.

Having read the book mentioned above, and after a visit to the Nottinghamshire Archives, I have become really interested in the layouts of the streets in the Lace Market and the potential for augmenting them with some interesting content. It appears that the key streets (e.g. High Pavement, Stoney Gate and St. Mary’s Gate) were certainly present, and in their current location, in 1610, and may well have been present in 1435 and even earlier. Any information on any of these streets would be very welcome – contact details below. These streets could then be an interesting reference point for a smartphone experience – which could potentially integrate content that spans a whole millennium.

Of those key streets, I find St. Mary’s Gate particularly interesting. The name itself gives a hint of its ancient origins – the derivation of gate is from gata, an Old Norse word for street, and the Lace Market area is known to have been occupied by Danish Vikings in AD 868. St. Mary’s Church, at the end of this street, is at least 500 years old, and a church has been present on this site since at least 1086. In 1843, warehouses for Lace were present on this street, and in 1847, the Nottingham Journal described St. Mary’s Gate as the “seat of the Lace Market”. Today, however, very little of this long history is apparent in the physical appearance of the street itself, which seems a shame. The street itself is actually very quiet and free of traffic, and also fairly short of natural light (thanks to Tim Coughlan for these observations). As such, it is a good candidate for augmentation with content such as audio recordings or projections, and I will be considering these kinds of possibilities during my fellowship.

In the meantime, I would like to collect as much information about St. Mary’s Gate as possible – whether historical, personal or anecdotal. If you would like to send me something, there are a few ways to do it. You can email me at cekelacemarket@gmail.com or tweet to @cekelacemarket – I will assume that anything sent to these addresses is private, and will ask permission before including content in any prototype experiences. If you want to write a public tweet, please use any of the following hashtags: #lacemarket, #stmarysgate, #stoneystreet, #highpavement and #broadstreet, which I will be monitoring and using myself. Please follow @cekelacemarket – I will be posting interesting things that I find to that, and advertising opportunities to get involved in this project. Please feel free to contact me with any thoughts at all around the Lace Market – I’ll be listening!

Stefan Rennick-Egglestone, CEKE fellow.

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