I love getting in to work on a day when one of our wool mattresses is being made. Ryan, who is shown above, sits on his wonderful old hand carder and processes a veritable mountain of wool! The Italian style mattresses that this wool goes into came about because of a lovely lady called Mary who had bought a wool mattress in Italy in 1968. She came to us to have it remade, and a couple of months later the story of Mary and her mattress was picked up by The Telegraph. There is a link to it at the bottom of this page.
Wool is a wonderful fibre, it’s fully sustainable, fire retardant and a great temperature regulator, and from time immemorial has been used to create a comfortable bed. It has a myriad other uses as well, but one of my favourite stories about wool comes from a time long past.
When imported cotton threatened the wool industry in the 17th century, acts were passed in parliament called the Burial in Wool Acts, which required the dead, except plague victims and the destitute, to be buried in pure British wool shrouds. Requiring something of the dead is difficult I think you’ll agree, so the law said that an affidavit had to sworn in front of a Justice of the Peace (usually by a relative of the person who had died) confirming burial in wool. There was a fine of £5 for non-compliance … a huge sum in those days! Burial records in parish registers from those days are marked with the word ‘affidavit’ if a woollen shroud had been used, or marked ‘naked’ for those who were too poor to afford one.
When the wool arrives with us at Abaca it has been washed (scoured is the technical term) but is in big clumps. To be able to use it in our mattresses it has to be opened, so Ryan spends a day or so sitting on his carder churning out the huge heap of soft wool that you see below. There is something hugely satisfying in knowing that wool that has been sheared from Welsh sheep is being turned into a finished product that is the epitome of luxury. Better still is knowing it’s providing skilled work in the rural economy. A win win!
If you want more information about these mattresses have a look at our website
The story about Mary and her Italian mattress is here: