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  The Most Famous Axminster Carpet of all
The Sultan of Turkey
In 1822, The famous Whitty carpet manufactory of Axminster, produced what must have been one of the most amazing hand loomed carpets ever made. It was produced for the Sultan of Turkey and it measured 74 feet x 52 feet. It was said to be a most colourful carpet depicting a blazing sun, moon and a whole constellation of stars. The cost of the carpet was recorded as being in excess of one thousand pounds, which at today’s value would surely equate to a price tag in excess of a million pounds.

Laid out for the townsfolk
The carpet was made in the old Thomas Whitty factory near the Minster Green in Axminster and when complete was carried by thirty men to the Congregational Church and laid out over the pews for the townsfolk to see. It covered the whole area apart from one aisle.

Wealth and splendour beyond description
The famous customer, Sultan Mahmud II, would have been one of the most powerful men in the world at that time and he ruled on the Ottoman throne at the Topkapi Palace from 1808 to 1839. The Wealth and splendour of his dynasty was almost beyond description. The palace complex of lavish buildings, spires, domes, courtyards and gardens covered an area of over 173 acres and over 4000 slaves, concubines, wives, courtiers, officials, and members of the royal family lived there. The harem alone comprised over 100 rooms.

The Most Famous Axminster Carpet of all

Deftdar Palace of the Golden Horn
Topkapi Palace is now a museum and still contains thousands of priceless artefacts from the Ottoman Empire, but sadly not the carpet. However, information was received last June from Mr. Halil Ozek Acting Director of the museum, indicating the carpet may have been laid in the Deftdar Palace of the Golden Horn on the Bosphorus. This palace belonged to one of the women of the court, Esma Sultan, daughter of Sultan Mustapha III. There is much logic in this theory as the dimensions of the great reception hall match almost exactly the dimensions of the carpet. Unfortunately the trail runs cold at that point as that palace no longer exists.

250th Anniversary
The Axminster Weavers’ Tales committee organised the great celebration that marked the 250th anniversary of the production of the first Axminster carpet, and one of the many aspects of that is to continue to find out more about, and if possible locate the ‘Sultan of Turkey Carpet’. Whilst enquiries made in Turkey are still awaited it is felt that some clues may be held here in the UK.

It has been recorded that two of the old Axminster weavers, Mrs. Banks who died in 1899 and Miss Pitcher who died shortly after, both remembered the great carpet. Also Mary Anne Hoare, then 90 was quoted “It was counted as a grand event, bells were rung and carriages came from a great distance on this gay day”. It is hoped there are still surviving descendants of these three ladies or the Whitty family, who may have been passed on information or even an old illustration of the carpet or maybe some information in a publication of the time.

Anyone with any possible clues or information is asked to kindly contact Fred Wells, Telephone: 01297 33771 or by e-mail    Fred Wells - click here to send email  fred@wellscarpetbroker.co.uk
 
   
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