The Warner Textile Archive contains a vast selection of over 80,000 silk cloths, brocades and velvets, designs and point papers. It is the second largest collection of its kind in the UK, the largest being located at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Most importantly, virtually all the items were made in the very mill where they can be seen today.
Located just five minutes walk from Braintree Museum, the Archive occupies part of the original Warner Silk Mills where fabrics were made for the Royal Family and for State occasions such as the Coronation in 1953.
It was Samuel Courtauld III who built the first mill on this site in 1818, before the Mills were taken over and extended first by Daniel Walters in 1860 and then by Warner’s in 1895. All three families were of French Huguenot origin, and had moved to Braintree in the eighteenth century from the Spitalfields district of London.
In 2005 Braintree District Museum Trust acquired the Warner Textile Archive and thanks to a major grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund has now created a state of the art museum facility. The Archive is now working closely with silk textile manufacturers and making the rich collection accessible to designers and students.
The Archive’s GALLERY is open to the public four days a week and is a celebration of the fabrics and designs within the archive.
Colour, shape and texture are the key words to describe the Gallery. Every drawer and display case takes the visitor on an exciting visual voyage of discovery from Warner’s unique three-pile velvets, the intricate woven silks of Owen Jones, cutting edge designs of the 1920s and 1930s, the boldness of the 1950s through to the iconic designs of the late twentieth century.