This East Devon bobbin lace sprig is part of a collection of British and Continental lace put together by Charlotte Treadwin, an important lace manufacturer with a business based in the Cathedral Yard, Exeter. The collection was donated to the museum in the late 1860s for lace-makers and designers to study. Treadwin once stated that there was not a single lace-designer in the whole of Devon, and strove to improve this, employing an artist to draw out her designs, and studying samples to better inform her practice and experimentation with lace-making patterns and techniques. By 1868, the lace manufactory and showrooms were already based at 5 Cathedral Yard (now known as the Cathedral Close).
The business had already been granted the royal warrant from Queen Victoria in 1848, before Charlotte’s marriage to John Treadwin. This sprig is part of a group of samples designed and made by Treadwin’s workshop for a piece which may have been commissioned by the Queen, or made for show at an international exhibition.