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Binche lace

For any enthusiast, the link between Binche and lace is clear, as the Town has given its name to a bobbin lace: “the Binche”.

The first archive to mention the existence of Binche lace dates from 1697, yet it is during the 18th century that Binche saw its greatest flourishing of lacemaking. Documents show that the Binche population included one thousand lace makers and that “so much lace was made there, it maintains two-thirds of the Town”. Such lace followed quite a complex commercial route, often ending up in the most prestigious of Courts.

After the destructive episode of the French Revolution, Binche reconnected with its glorious past. In fact, Victor Hugo alluded to the fame of Binche lace in one of his foremost works “Les Misérables”, during Cosette’s nuptials; the marriage veil of Louise-Marie of Orleans was also made in Binche, when she married the King of All The Belgians, Leopold I.

The number of lace makers never ceased to grow during the first half of the 19th century, peaking in 1856, with 1,800 lace makers out of a population of around 6,000.

As with everywhere else, the growing success of machine-made lace and the advent of new industries from the second half of the century dealt an almost fatal blow to the art of lace making.

During the first half of the 20th century, only very few lace makers remained active.

In 1950, the town authorities of Binche, quite deviating from the norm, decided to found a lace making school, to breathe new life into this prestigious aspect of the Town’s past.

From then on, a new dynamic was created and, throughout the second half of the 20th century, besides the school, various associations and personal and collective initiatives emerged:

  • The Lace Making School
  • The CATC
  • The Lace Making and Crafts Center
  • Binche fine lace

 

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