Butler Stewart’s 18th Century Heritage

Butler Stewart’s owner and designer, Anna Butler, has textiles in her family history dating back over 200 years. Anna was brought up in the Essex countryside surrounded by her ancestor’s legacy that goes back as far as the 18th century.

George Courtauld & Co. was founded by her relative George Courtauld and was a manufacturer of fabric, clothing and artificial fibres. It was established in 1794 and became the world’s leading man-made fibre production company employing over 2000 people. It was established as a silk, crepe and textile business at Pebmarsh in North Essex, just down the road from Anna’s family farm. George’s successors were his son and then great-nephew Samuel Courtauld who is chiefly remembered today as the founder of the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.

Wishing to reduce their dependence on natural silk in 1904, Courtaulds acquired the Cross and Bevan patents for the viscose process to manufacture artificial silk from dissolving pulp.

In 1905 they set up the first factory for production in Coventry. After a few teething problems the process became highly successful and was responsible for transforming the business into the world’s leading man-made fibre production company. The Courtaulds then went on to conquer the American market.

In the late 1900s Courtaulds remained one of the four groups which dominated the man-made fibre industry in Europe. In 1990, Courtaulds demerged itself into two separate companies: Courtaulds plc which covered the fibre manufacturing and chemical businesses and Courtaulds Textiles Ltd who were Britain’s largest producer of lingerie and underwear until the early 21st century.

Hundreds of years later Anna follows in the footsteps of her successful forebears. With her passion for designing and love of beautiful fabrics she sources natural fibres that are made in the UK for her exclusive luxury garments. She also uses viscose for the distinctive colourful linings in her coats, jackets, waistcoats and skirts.