Tak v Bowes Departed
Elizabeth Benns and Gina Barrett


It is with great sadness that I have to announce the passing of my dear friend and co-author of this book, Elizabeth Benns, In July 2018 after a long battle with cancer.

I first met Elizabeth at a get together / study weekend for the White Company Nuns. We were both new members, and the idea of looking into the lives of medieval women was something that struck a chord. We hit it off immediately. The creation of the Soper Lane group was not far behind.

Elizabeth's research - hours spent studying wills and other documents, really helped us to understand the everyday lives of the medieval London silkwomen. She discovered numerous women related to silkwork and found links between many of them both business and social. She gifted me an address book filled with names and dates of these - I think there were only two such address books of people who died 500 years ago! She used her training as a Barrister to do her research, and finding that documentary evidence was her real forte.

Thanks to her we can also now all view the images of Harley 2320 online, as she instigated and funded the photography of the pages.

She was a founding member of The Household, another re-enactment / study group that sought to give a clear picture of the day-to-day aspects of a medieval merchant's house.

Her love of research did not wane once diagnosed with cancer back in 2008. Instead she took part in drug trials, gene research and was an advocate for cancer research, putting energy into the search for a cure and better treatment. She blogged about cancer care and her treatment  (https://inthelandofnewnormal.blogspot.com/) and I know was an incredible support to the Storm Riders - a group of women brought together by and who braved the storm of cancer. She appeared on the BBC just last month talking about recent research breakthroughs, despite knowing that her cancer, which she had originally fought successfully, had returned.  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-44455354

She was a good friend. The kind that you didn't have to see or even speak to for ages but could pick up where you left off. She was kind, serious, and devoted to her family. She will be greatly missed.

Elizabeth Benns at the Jewel Tower


Soper Lane will be sponsoring at session at the International Medieval Congress, Leeds, 2008. Both Elizabeth and Gina will be presenting papers, along with Machi Sasai, of the Ochanomizu University, Tokyo.

Our session will be on Tuesday 8th July at 14.15 hrs in the Grant Common Room (Bodington site).

For more details, please see the Congress Website:

Gina will be one of the guest speakers at the following event-

The East Midlands Branch of the Richard III Society presents
Peasantry, Gentry & Nobility
Saturday June 21st 2008
at The Leicester Adult Education College, Wellington Street, Leicester from 09.30 until 16.30
The programme will feature talks on
A Peasant’s life in Medieval England by Gareth King
The Paston Family by Dr. Helen Castor
The Silk Weavers of Soper Lane by Gina Barrett
The Kingmaker’s Sisters by David Baldwin

Elizabeth will be attending the Historic Christmas Fayre in the Norwich Cathedral Cloister Thursday 13th December to Saturday 15th December (2007) 10am to 7pm.

For more details do visit the Cathedral's website at:

There will be copies of the book available, alongwith small medieval silk items suitable for gifts, etc. Do stop by if you're in the area and say hello.


Elizabeth will be attending the Medieval Mayhem event at Donington-le-Heath Manor House on Sunday 17th September. For more details click here.

Elizabeth & Gina will be attending the Battle of Bosworth Anniversary weekend weekend (19/20 August). Come along and have a go at fingerloop braiding, and ask any questions you may have about the book. Or simply stop by to say hello!

We'll also have items available for sale, including the range of Soper Lane booklets and silk suitable for braiding.

The event is a good day out for the family, with lots happening around the site. For more details see, click here.


When the book went to print we were told by a very experienced author,"there is not one book that has ever been published that is error-free. All you can do is hope that yours has as few as possible!" - wise words. Click here for our Errata

As promised, all pre-orders were despatched by the 5th - our little rural post office didn't quite know what hit it!

[above] Gina & Elizabeth signing books and drinking champagne!


Thank you to all who have ordered advance, signed copies of the book. All of these orders will be despatched by Friday 5th May. For those of you living outside of the UK, Monday 1st is a Bank Holiday here in the United Kingdom, essentially meaning that the post offices are closed. All overseas orders will be despatched by airmail, usual delivery times are 3-5 days for Europe, 7-10 for the rest of the world.

Battle of Bosworth Anniversary Weekend 19/20 August 2006

Elizabeth and Gina will be attending the Anniversary weekend in August, signing copies of the book and providing hands-on demonstrations through-out the two days. Full details will be posted as they are confirmed, but for now further details of the event can be found at: http://www.leics.gov.uk/country_parks_bosworth


International Medieval Congress, Leeds

Elizabeth Benns will be presenting a paper in the DISTAFF sponsored session on Monday 10th July, 14.15-15.45hrs. The session is entitled “Textile Manufacture and Trade” and she will be discussing some of the items that the London silkwomen made for the Royal Wardrobe. For information about the whole 4 day Congress see their website: www.leeds.ac.uk/ims/imc


Women of Power and Influence During the Wars of the Roses

Saturday June 10th 2006
Leicester Adult Education College Wellington Street, Leicester 9.30 - 4.30

Study Day organised by the East Midlands Branch of the Richard III Society. Gina Barrett will be attending this study day with samples of various types of silkwork, to illustrate the work of the London Silkwomen. The study day will feature talks on Elizabeth Woodville & The Battle of Stoke, by David Baldwin; Behind the Throne - The Role Of Women 1066-1500, by Jean Townsend; Lady Margaret Beaufort by Angela Smith; Margaret of York - Recent DNA Studies by John Ashdown-Hill. For further details and tickets (by May 10th 2006) please contact the Branch Secretary, Sally Henshaw on sallyoftarahill@pgen.net