Ode to Woad


Another update from our very busy Skills for the Future trainee, Scott.

Last week I took part in a short course and activity at the Woad Centre less than a mile from our base at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse. Virtually the only natural blue dye throughout history has been indigo and its source in Europe was woad. The Woad Centre in Norfolk is Britain’s only commercial enterprise producing the natural dye.

After a short talk about the industrial and cultural history of Woad/Indigo we were able to produce a simple pattern transferred onto our cloth. Using a range of props we folded, tied, wrapped and pressed our designs into place and then took them through to the dying room. Ten minutes was all that was needed to allow the natural dye to take. On removal of our items the dye appeared green, but immediately turned blue before our eyes as it oxidised. The fabrics were then rinsed thoroughly in cold water for a minute and hung out to dry.
Simple, educational and fun!
   Scott Tampin,
   Skills for the Future Trainee,
   Heritage Gardening Apprentice.
woad hankies

Hedgelaying course

Here’s an update from one of the Skills of the Future trainees about a recent SHARE training course they attended:

Up until a day or two before the course started I didn’t have clue what hedge laying was. I thought it was basically hedge planting. The actual day it’s self was very educational and fun.

Allison of ‘Huxleyhedges’ began the day with a classroom introduction using work sheets, models and powerpoint to explain a little about her background, the tools and principles involved. After completing the theory side of our training we went out in to the field.

The hedge we would be laying had been prepared for us and all we had to do was concentrate on the actual cutting of the main stem/trunk and lay it. Sounds simple? I butchered my first one! The second one went a lot better and the third better again. By the end of the day I felt a lot more confident.

One thing I have learnt is that swinging the ‘billhook’, a big cleaver/chopper type thing is definitely a way to build up the bi-ceps! I am really looking forward to my next training day.

Scott Tampin,
Skills for the Future
Heritage Gardening Apprentice.




Happy New Year!

Here’s hoping that 2013 will be a fantastic year for us all.

To dust off the January blues over on our facebook and twitter pages we are celebrating all things Gressenhall with an A-Z. Each day we are posting photos and facts to do with that days letter. So far C was the busiest day standing for Curators, Cherry Tree Cottage, Chapel, Collections, Chairs and Clocks!

Please come and join us and let us know your suggestions!