The Old Penny House

A Lace Walk around Olney

The Old Penny House

Olney, England MK46, United Kingdom

Created By: ODHS

Point of Interest Details

Point 2 Stop at Evelyn House, next to Olney House (Number 15), to look across the street at the Old Penny House (Number 22) to the left of the archway, and the Honey House, the next property (Number 24) to the north.

Recent photo of No 22 High St (Old Penny House)

The Old Penny House was a school for girls run by Sarah Duxbury in the 1850s, who also taught them lacemaking, for a few pence a week. Teachers in lace schools were also supposed to teach the girls to read and write, but usually most of the effort was put into lacemaking, as writing would have taken their hands off their lace pillows! The children would be gathered in a room usually with no heating, other than ‘dicky pots’ at their feet, as smoke and dust from a fire would soil their lace. Their necks and arms were kept bare so the teacher could slap them if the lace was worked incorrectly. The extreme punishment for bad work was to have their head thrust forward onto the pillow and their nose rubbed on the pin heads!

Recent photo of No. 24 High St (Honey House)

Next door, the Honey House is so called because the Cobb family, who lived there in late Victorian times were bee-keepers as well as carpenters and had a licence to make a mead-like drink called Metheglin on St. Andrew’s Day, which was the lacemakers’ holiday on 30th November. This was corrupted to ‘Tanders’ Day. As well as the drink, yeast cakes flavoured with caraway seeds, were eaten and games played like ‘Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jump over the candlestick’. Following this holiday the lacemakers were allowed to light the candle on the stool surrounded by glass globes for reflection of light in order for them to see to make lace during the dark winter months.

This point of interest is part of the tour: A Lace Walk around Olney


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