Katie Judd (1870 -1956) – Founder and owner of Lydia Grace Millinery
Born Katie Alma Pluck in 1870 in Plaistow, Essex, the youngest daughter of an Iron Ship Plater who died in 1873. Her widowed mother Eliza was left with 6 children and worked as a dressmaker.
By 1891 Katie was in Tunbridge Wells as an assistant draper to John Seabrook Jackson on Camden Road. She married Arthur Judd, a clothier in 1896 and in 1901 they lived in Tonbridge. According to a report in the K&S Courier in 1956, Katie had 2 shops in Tonbridge High Street before she opened her millinery shop ‘Lydia Grace’, named after her daughter, in 1906 at 26 Monson Road. The shop sold a wide range of traditional and fashionable headwear, and many of the designs were created by the team led by Katie.
The motto of ‘Madame’ Lydia Grace was ‘Becoming styles founded on smart, though sensible lines’, and customers could specify the style they liked which could be created on the premises.
Katie died in 1956 and is buried in C2 (Gen) 497. Her shop remained in the same location, run by her daughter until it closed in 1996. Some of her hats are on display in The Amelia and there is an online exhibition of her work (themuseumoflydiagrace.com)