British design, made here in the British Isles


Primitive man clothed himself in woolly sheepskins from sheep killed for food, giving him protection from the elements. Later, sheep were milked and by 1900 BC, wool was spun and woven in Britain.

By the start of the Medieval Period, having been encouraged to grow their developing woollen industry by the Romans following their invasion in 55 BC, Britons were spinning fleeces and weaving fine cloth.

The Saxon invasions in the 5th century nearly destroyed the industry, but by the 8th Britons were exporting to the Continent. Post Norman Conquest the industry expanded further, so by the 12th century cloth making was extensive in southern and eastern England. Production peaked in the 13th century then declined due to political strife. Flemish Weavers settled here in the 14th during the Spanish invasion bringing prosperity to the wool trade. Black Death decimated the population so arable farming became difficult and less labour intensive sheep farming increased. Raw wool exports grew as did the manufacture of wool fabrics so England became a major exporter of woollen cloth towards the end of the Medieval Period.

Today, wool is an amazingly versatile all-natural, renewable fibre used extensively in British manufacturing - whether it be woven into lambswool ties by Lad in Yorkshire, felted (pressed non-woven mat of wool fibres) into hats by Christys' in Oxfordshire, or recycled into wool picnic rugs and throws by Tweedmill in Flintshire.

Lanolin is the naturally occurring fat in wool and is used to make soaps by Paula Bull in Wadhurst, and various wools are used to make some of our woolly gifts, like Sir Randolph and Lady Eleanora by Katie Smerke in Burwash and a huge tea cosy made here in Battle by Claire Bate.

Paula Williams, Founder of BRITISH design BRITISH made, 64 High Street, Battle, TN33 0AG, helping you to buy British.