We love wool… do ewe?
The Cotswolds was once one of the greatest centres of the UK’s historic wool trade. The wealth that came from it can still be seen across the region in some of the great mansion houses and churches and miles of stone walling.
Wool and woollen cloth making has been an important trade and industry in the Cotswolds for hundreds of years, in fact going back to Roman times. The local landscape is ideal for breeding and raising sheep with its large areas of open limestone grasslands or hill pasture and several fast-flowing rivers needed to power cloth mills. The Cotswolds also has a good road network connecting it with important trading centres. As well as being responsible for building the incredibly straight roads that run through the area, the Romans were also responsible for introducing a breed of long-wool sheep to Britain. It is thought that these sheep were crossbred with a type of native sheep, which eventually became known as the Cotswold breed – popularly known as ‘Cotswold Lions’ – as photographed above.
You can discover more about the Cotswold wool trade at the following visitor centres:
- Gigg Mill near Stroud
- Dunkirk Mill near Nailsworth
- Witney and District Museum, Witney
- Cogges Manor Farm Museum, Witney
Cogges Manor Farm Museum is a unique working museum of Victorian rural life in Oxfordshire, set in an historic Manor House and Cotswold stone farm buildings. Fans of Downton Abbey might recognise Cogges Manor Farm… it was Yew Tree Farm, home to the Drewe family in series 4 and 5, where Lady Edith’s child was raised.
Want to see wool being woven? You can visit Cotswold Woollen Weavers in Filkins, which is home to a textile museum, design studio and shop dedicated to traditionally woven cloth.