‘Hipsters didn’t invent trendy crafts’: Duchess of Cornwall launches GrandFest at Hoxton’s Geffrye Museum

The Duchess of Cornwall on a visit to the Geffrye Museum for the launch of GrandFest and trying some

The Duchess of Cornwall on a visit to the Geffrye Museum for the launch of GrandFest and trying some preserves - Credit: Archant

The Duchess of Cornwall met septuagenarians showcasing heritage craft skills like weaving, crochet and knitting at the Geffrye Museum in Hoxton this morning, to launch a festival which will see them sharing their arts with the younger generation.

Camilla tasted lemon curd made by 75-year old Rae Wilson from Stirlingshire, had a go at basket weaving with 72-year old Betty Grace, and heard how 75-year old Elizabeth Lee spins wool from her Samoyed dog Zoe’s fur.

They are just three of the ‘GrandMaker’ craftsmen who will share the secrets behind their skills at the second GrandFest on Sunday June 5, a one day festival in Spitalfields held by the Royal Voluntary Service of which Camilla is President.

Mrs Lee described how it takes three hours to make an ounce of wool, meaning one jumper requires 30 hours of spinning.

She started using the dog’s soft hair because it “seemed like a shame to throw the lovely wool”, and when she grooms Zoe the hair “comes off in masses”.

“What a lovely thing to do,” exclaimed the Duchess.

“I would love to learn that.”

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Clive Lillow, the oldest participant in GrandFest, at 76 makes bread.

“There’s no machinery involved, the only machine is the oven,” he told Camilla.

He showed her a picture of his great great grandmother who was baking until she was 100.

“There’s hope for us all,” she laughed.

Afterwards Clive told the Gazette: “I’m quite taken with her.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever met any royalty, it was very pleasant.”

Following the reception, David McCullough chief executive of the RVS said: “We wanted to promote the message that although all these crafts are trendy and of hipsters in Hoxton are doing all sorts of crocheting and knitting, actually they didn’t invent it.

“These skills have been around for a fair while, and so we wanted to just demonstrate that our older generation are full of fantastic transferable skills.

“It may now be called ‘artisan bread making’ but most of us think of it as bread making, and those are skills we think should be shared with generations, helping that sense of connection but also demonstrating that our older generation add tremendous value to society.”

Actress Patricia Routledge, who played Hyacinth Bucket in the comedy series Keeping Up Appearances, and is a friend of the Duchess and Ambassador of the RVS added: “I keep saying they are keeping us alive for longer and they don’t know what to do with us, but we know exactly what to do with ourselves and long may it last.”

For more information and to sign up to a workshop at the festival see grandfest.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk/.