Up until the time of the Doomsday survey in 1086, sheep in England were kept mainly for milk and wool, but within 100 years Britain was producing not only the most, but also the best wool in the world. Wool was beginning to grow in importance and prosperity rested heavily on the woolsack.
In 1339, a man named Thomas Blanket was granted permission by a local magistrate to set up a loom on which to make a ‘well raised surface’ fabric for use as a bed covering.
It took Thomas some time to get his curious concept accepted as even in Shakespeare’s time, the common man was still sleeping on a straw pallet with a wooden log for a pillow!
Only the wealthier echelon had the luxury of feather mattresses, furs and fine cloths for sleeping on.
By the end of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, wool blanket making had become an industry, and Yorkshire became the key industry location. The wool industry played a huge part in the history of British export, and contributed to building the strength of the British Empire. Some of those export links live on today, such as the Basuto Kaross ceremonial blanket of the Basuto warrior, the colourful Hudson’s Bay point blanket of Canada and the symbolic wedding blankets given to newly married couples in China. The Hainsworth family have been the guardians of this precious history, and continue to carry forward the traditions and values today, keeping the stories alive for generations to come.