Sheep at the Heart of British Government

We know that our luxurious sheepskin and wool products are at the heart of many of your homes, but did you also know that sheep and their wool lie at the heart of the British government?

The Woolsack is a large, wool-stuffed cushion covered in red cloth in the House of Lords and is the seat of the Lord Speaker.  The House of Lords is the Upper House of our U.K. Parliament, hence, wool is central to our government.  The Woolsack was introduced by King Edward 111 in the fourteenth century as an acknowledgement of the vital part that wool played in our country’s economy.

The Woolsack has neither back nor armrests, but there is a backrest in the middle of it and behind this rest the Lords’ Mace is placed.

To the horror of all logophiles (word lovers) and purists, it was discovered in 1938 that the Woolsack was in fact stuffed with horsehair (sacrilege!) and not with wool.  This blunder was soon righted and the venerable object was re-stuffed with wool from every country of the U.K. and from countries all over the Commonwealth, thus symbolising the unity of all these nation states.

However, that is not the end of sheep in government.  Those woolly wonders insinuated themselves into our government records back in the Middle Ages, when sheepskin was used to make the parchment on which the Exchequer, or Treasury, records were written.  These records were known as Pipe Rolls, the name deriving from the shape of the parchment when rolled up for storage.

Were you also aware that beautiful Barton St. David, which is the home of our cloud-soft Sheepland sheepskin and wool products, has an important connection with the U.S.  government, thus linking an overseas seat of power with our sheep, too?  It was the birthplace of Henry Adams (1583-1646), the great-great grandfather of John Adams, the second President of the U.S.  He migrated to a chilly Massachusetts with his wife and nine children; I bet they wish they had worn Sheepland’s sheepskin boots, gloves and hats!  The Adams family (no, not that one) went forth and multiplied and Barton-born Henry’s great-great-great grandson became the sixth U.S. President.  If Henry Adams was short of funds when he skipped over to the U.S., he probably would have chosen Sheepland’s Wool Lined Moccasin Slippers.  These affordable, luxury slippers are lined with softest lambswool and have a supple, suede outer.  Just right for cosying by the fire with a book in snowy Massachusetts winters.

Talking of books, did you know that the size of a modern, hardback book is linked to the size of a skinned, stretched sheepskin?  Sheepskin was used for the run-of-the-mill books (not the superior ones, which were made of calfskin, or vellum).  When the sheepskins were cut into rectangles and folded in half three times, they provided pages the size of a book.

– With thanks to our guest writer, K Wride

Released On 29th Nov 2017