The Silk Museum

Welcome to The Silk Museum

Explore how silk shaped Macclesfield over 300 years and it’s intriguing connection with Ancient Egypt. Get a taste of 19th and 20th century fashions with our pattern book and costume collection. Discover the crucial role that our silk industry played during the Second World War. C

Currently open Wednesday-Saturday 10am-4pm.

Silk Museum entry is by donation, a ‘Give What You Can’ optional scheme.

Pre-booking no longer required – visitors can walk straight in. We are monitoring visitor numbers, cleaning regularly and there are hand sanitizers throughout the museum. We respectfully ask visitors to wear masks, but realise it is personal choice.

The Rise and Fall of Silk in Macclesfield

Delve into the history of silk in Macclesfield with our latest exhibition, ‘The Rise and Fall of Silk in Macclesfield’ where Macclesfield’s silk story is brought to life through textiles, costumes, photographs and more.

Discover why silk first came to Macclesfield and how it ultimately shaped the town we know today. Find out about the lives of the children, women and men who worked in the silk mills and discover how central a role the mills played in their lives in both work and leisure.

Learn about Jacquard weaving and screen printing through the work of Cyrus Newton Fytton and Edith Buxton, textile designers who trained at Macclesfield School of Art, the building which houses the Silk Museum today.
With over four hundred years of Macclesfield’s silk history to explore, there is something for everyone.

Marianne Brocklehurst’s Egyptian collection

Our famous Ancient Egyptian collections are on display once again. Come and find out about the lives of these fascinating people through the artefacts and inscriptions they left behind as you explore the oldest objects in our museums.

Learn about the connection between silk and Egypt through the lives of Marianne Brocklehurst and Mary Booth, the two Victorian explorers who gave their collection of Ancient Egyptian artefacts to Macclesfield.

With more objects on display than ever before –  including Tutankhamun’s ring, our well preserved Shebmut Mummy case, a collection of over forty Shabti and other fascinating artifacts.

The exhibition is a must for visitors both young and old – exploring the  everyday life, customs and beliefs of an ancient Egyptian civilisation.

Macclesfield at War

Find out about the crucial role that Macclesfield’s silk industry played in the Second World War, maintaining the vital supply of parachute silk.

See our collection of silk ‘escape and evade’ maps used by the RAF. Maps were printed on silk during the war because of the durability and ease of concealing in soldiers’ clothing. At the end of the war when fabric was still rationed, soldiers returned home with maps and they were used to make clothing. Silk map dresses used 12 maps and are considered very rare. Macclesfield Museum is proud to display our silk dress along with maps, war memorials, parachutes and other artefacts.

The Silk Museum also has a permanent display of War Memorials (formerly housed in Christ Church) commemorating the lives of 865 silk workers who lost their lives during the two World Wars.

Textile Machinery

Macclesfield Museums hold a variety of machines.

At Paradise Mill, 26 iconic Jacquard Hand Weaving Looms are uniquely housed in their original positions, while the Silk Museum houses the more modern mechanised Smith Loom, Rapier Loom and Ribbon Loom, which made tags for Dr Martens boots.

The collection also includes various other machines connected with weaving such as a card duplicator, used to make copies of Jacquard cards, and a silk throwing machine.

You can see some of the machines demonstrated during tours of Paradise Mill or on Thursdays when our Machine Volunteers are conducting conservation work at the Silk Museum.

The Between Floors Collection

Featuring Charles Tunnicliffe: A Cheshire Countryman, works by the acclaimed artist.

Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe (1901-1979) was Britain’s foremost 20th century wildlife artist, renowned for his decorative watercolours of birds.  He is less well-known as a printmaker, but it is often in these pictures that the influence of his early life in Cheshire is revealed.

Born in Langley, Macclesfield, he lived and worked on the family farm at Sutton Lane Ends until he was 19 years old.  He studied at the Macclesfield School of Art (the building which now houses The Silk Museum) before receiving a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in London.

The exhibition explores both his well-observed images of rural Macclesfield in the early 20th century and his later commercial successes.  He readily found work illustrating books and in advertising, most famously for Henry Williamson’s 1932 edition of Tarka the Otter.

This exhibition highlights a number of unseen and early works, including watercolours of Macclesfield and a self-portrait print.  His wife Winifred, whom he met whilst studying at the Royal College of Art, was also an artist and amongst the exhibits there is an example of one of her carved bookcases and a ceramic polar bear.

The Silk Shop

Come and explore our Silk Shop and discover a beautifully curated range of quality gifts for your family and friends – and maybe a treat for yourself too!

Take home a memento of Macclesfield Silk from our range of beautiful scarves, ties, and our vintage Jacquard woven pictures.

With a nod to our silk weaving heritage, we stock a range of greeting cards and bobbins; the latter creatively up-cycled into practical homeware gifts. You can also purchase items from our ‘Paradise’ range of silk buttons, brooches and cufflinks – all made with hand-woven silk from the Paradise Mill Jacquard looms.

Looking for unique gifts created by local artisans? We stock a beautiful range of contemporary jewellery by Alison Stairmand and paper artist Liz Hamman amongst others.

We also stock a large selection of raw ‘Crafting Silk’ – ideal for a wide use of textile projects and silk paper making.

Tea Room

Walk straight into our family-friendly Tea Room serving delicious cake and biscuits. Choose from a variety of teas and top quality filter coffee served in vintage china.

Treat yourself after a tour of Paradise Mill or exploring the museum collection.

With high chairs for the little ones, and baby changing facilities. Keep them entertained with colouring sheets and an eye spy quiz around the museum.

Directions & Parking

The Silk Museum is located on Park Lane, Macclesfield SK11 6TJ. Call us on 01625 612045.

By Car: Less than 2 minutes walk is council run The Old Library car park, with 28 spaces, with 1 accessible parking bay for Blue Badge holders. Located on the corner of Park Green SK11 7NA. Cash/card payment required.

Around the corner, less than 2 minutes walk, is Duke Street car park with 261 spaces, with 5 accessible parking bays for Blue Badge holders and coach bays. Cash/card payment required.

There is free 1 hour on-street parking available directly outside the museum. Also suitable for coach drop off and collection.

By Bus: There is a stop 3 minutes walk away on Lord Street. Macclesfield’s Bus Station on Queen Victoria Street SK11 6LP is a 5 minute walk.

By Train: Macclesfield station, Waters Green SK11 6JP is an 8 minute walk away.

Access at The Silk Museum

The Silk Museum is suitable for baby buggy/ pram, wheelchair, mobility scooter, crutches and zimmer frame users.

The main entrance to the museum has steps, but we also have a disabled access entrance.

The ground floor is step-free throughout.

There is bench seating throughout the ground floor of the museum. We also have a wheelchair available if required. There are slopes throughout and a disabled access lift up to the first floor of the Silk Museum.

Blue badge holders can park in the bays outside the museum for three hours if they display their badge.

View AccessAble independent full review of the Silk Museum here.

Accessible Toilet Facilities:
You are welcome to use the unisex access toilet, with baby changing facilities. These are open only to museum visitors.

We welcome assistance dogs. Water bowls are available.