The Tanner’s Daughter – Episode 23

Jane is reunited with Margery Illustration: Mandy Dixon

The building on White Friars Lane more than exceeded expectations.

Built in the Tudor style from local red sandstone and roofed in sturdy Welsh slate, its attractively mullioned shop window was adequately glazed and the entrance fitted with an iron-studded oak door.

This led directly into the shop region, containing a counter top and several display cabinets.

A pair of deep alcoves, giving the potential for seated accommodation where customers could sift through swatches and pattern-books, brought an exclamation of approval from Will.

To the rear of the ground floor was a chamber that could be turned into workrooms.

From here, a flight of stairs led to living quarters above the shop.

“Look at this! A bolt hole for if ever you give me my marching orders,” Will jested.

Jane stopped in her tracks and Will took a concerned step towards her.

“Jane, you are wan all of a sudden. What is it?”

“I… nothing,” she said lamely. “It is airless up here. Shall we go down again?

“We must come back another time. You will want to make a note of any alterations and such.”

She was gabbling and Will, giving her a hard look, led the way down the stairs.

But nothing could dampen the joy of the moment and, glancing around his premises with pleasure and disbelief, he began making plans.

“I shall draw up a list of requirements right away. The building is in good order and won’t need anything structural doing.

“I wonder if any of the Hatton’s men would be interested in some extra labour?”

“We can but ask,” Jane told him quietly.

Work went ahead, and for the next weeks the building on White Friars Lane echoed to the sound of sawing, hammering and a good deal of bawdy song as the men put their backs into the refurbishment.

The prospect of extra wages was a good carrot. Will did not lack volunteers, and out of a basic shell the business quarters he had in mind gradually emerged.

Night after night, he sat sketching designs for his exclusive glove-wear. Riding gloves, morning gloves, gloves for church, gloves for work and gloves for play.

From infanthood to advancing years, all were catered for within the pages of Will’s fashion manual.

It came to his attention that a long-term Hatton’s man, Geoffrey Hodge, currently employed at the cordwainer’s shop on Bridge Street, was actually trained in the craft of glove-making.

It only took a brief word to know that the man was an expert in his field.

“How would you feel about exchanging footwear manufacture for gloving?

“I need someone to take charge of my White Friars workrooms. Interested?” Will asked him.

Hodge’s reaction was to pump Will’s hand vigorously, his grin splitting his face.

With the festive season fast approaching, work on the shop increased pace.

Deadline met, Will took a wearied workforce off to the Pied Bull to celebrate a job well done.

The doors of Hatton’s Supreme Gloves for Ladies, Gentlemen and Infants, Proprietor William Leche, opened on a misty morning in early December.

To Will’s heartfelt gladness, since his mistrust of those in power was a constant thorn in his flesh, a host of interested parties flocked in, requesting individual hand-wear for the Christmastide feasting, dancing, play-going and merrymaking ahead.

In the workrooms behind the shop, Hodge and his hand-picked team worked like men possessed.

Orders were met, right down to the last tiny pair of child’s soft, fur-lined mitts.

When further orders came for the remainder of the winter season, Will felt fit to relax in the knowledge that his venture into glove-making promised to be a success.

To be continued…

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