Welcome to Soper Lane

Soper Lane is a group of women who have studied the working lives of fifteenth century silkwomen. The function of the group is to bring to life as accurately as possible the work of the 15th century English silkwomen.

During the 15th century, a number of silkwomen had shops and homes in London's Soper Lane, Cheapside, from which this group has taken its name.

Our research into these fascinating medieval businesswomen is ongoing, and members have written numerous papers, presentations, books and articles.

The Location of Soper Lane

Although there is no longer a London street named Soper Lane, the location of the medieval road is known from references both to the street itself and to St. Pancras Church, which stood on the corner of Soper Lane and Needlers Lane. Both Soper Lane and St Pancras Church suffered considerable damage during the Great Fire of 1666. 

Laces, braids & cords

Laces were an essential item in the medieval period for all walks of life. Used for fastening garments, drawstrings for purses, hanging items from a belt and numerous other applications, laces were an item always in demand.

The silkwomen produced laces by a variety of methods, the most common by braiding. Laces are very light in comparison to their length - an important issue when it is remembered that silkwomen bought their silk by weight - the more items that could be made from it, the more profit!

Alice Claver

Alice Claver was one of the most successful London silkwomen during the fifteenth century.

Alice's birthplace and maiden name are unknown. She was the second wife of Richard Claver, a successful mercer. It is likely that they were married when she was in her 20's and he in his late 40's. Richard and Alice had one son, also called Richard, and Richard (the elder) had an illegitimate daughter named Jone.