Archive for March, 2011

HRH The Prince of Wales has agreed to become President of the Heritage Crafts Association. See full release here and HCA Chair Robin Wood’s blog here.  This is fantastic news for this energetic association whose aim is to keep Britain’s traditional crafts alive and to develop them to pass on to future generations.


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The Book of Forgotten Crafts by Paul Felix, Sian Ellis and Tom Quinn

Anyone who cares about the survival of Britain’s craft heritage needs to read this book. From bodger to brickmaker, potter to pub sign designer, tanner to thatcher and cooper to clog maker, many crafts survive in the hands of just a few individuals. The Book of Forgotten Crafts tells their stories, and is illustrated with beautiful photographs of the crafters at work.

Traditional British crafts are currently enjoying an extraordinary resurgence of interest, as people turn away from a throw-away culture and start to appreciate again the dedication, skill and passion of craftspeople and the beauty and intrinsic value of an object made by hand.  Publication of The Book of Forgotten Crafts, a celebration of traditional craftsmanship, is therefore very timely.

It is impossible not to be inspired by the life stories of the nearly 50 British craftsmen and women interviewed for the book, which brings to life a history of craftsmanship that in some cases stretches back as far as 1,000 years.

From bodger to brickmaker, potter to pub sign designer, tanner to thatcher and cooper to clog maker, these talented people all make a hugely important contribution to Britain’s heritage.  The book is illustrated with inspirational photographs by Paul Felix which show the craftspeople in their workshops and display the beauty of the objects they make.

Included among the forty-nine craftsmen and women featured are:

Neil Hopkins of Two Rivers Paper Company on Exmoor, a commercial hand mill that has been restored to use waterpower to make paper from old rags in the traditional manner

Robin Wood, bowl maker, who uses timber local to his studio in the Peak District to create traditional, functional wooden bowls.  Robin is also Chair of the Heritage Crafts Association and has written the foreword to this book

Rhiannon Evans, goldsmith, an award-winning jewellery designer who works in pure and mixed Welsh gold

Adam King, broomsquire, based in Buckinghamshire, who has been making besom brooms since he was eighteen and was nearly swept away by Harry Pottermania

Christine Springett, a bobbin lace maker for over 30 years, who specialises in Bedfordshire lace and enthuses about the weaving, plaiting and looping involved in her craft

Lesley Pyke, glass engraver from Suffolk, who is passionate about crystal and works in many layers of colour

Guitar Maker

Dyer and Felt Maker

Lobster pot maker









Full list of craftspeople featured in The Book of Forgotten Crafts:

Village Workshop Crafts:
The Wheelwright
The Cooper
The Tanner
The Leather Bottle Maker
The Papermaker
The Millwright
The Potter
The Rhubarb Forcer Maker
The Blacksmith
The Rope Maker
Decorative Crafts
The Woodcarvers
The Glass Blower
The Goldsmith
The Stained Glass Artist
The Pub Sign Designer
The Glass Engraver
The Serpentine Rock Carver
The Silversmith
Basketry Crafts
The Basket Maker
The Oak Swill Basket Maker
The Bee Skep Maker
The Lobster Pot Maker
The Rush Seat Maker
The Trug Maker
Textile Crafts
The Tapestry Weaver
The Dyer & Felt Maker
The Spinning Wheel Maker
The Lace Maker
The Fabric Weaver
Woodland Crafts
The Bowl Maker
The Broomsquire
The Hurdle Maker
The Bodger
The Stick and Crooks Maker
The Hedgelayer
The Clog Maker
The Rake Maker
Building Crafts
The Brick Maker
The Dry Stone Wallers
The Flint Knapper
The Stone Mason
The Thatchers
Crafts for Sport and Recreation
The Bowyer/Fletcher
The Bagpipe maker
The Cricket Bat maker
The Guitar Maker
The Gunsmith
The Whip Maker
The Gig Boat Maker

The authors:

Paul Felix has been taking photographs of traditional craftsmen for over forty years.  His work has been published in newspapers and magazines around the world.  He lives between Gloucestershire and Cornwall.

Tom Quinn is a writer, editor and a social historian. He is the author of the book Mastercrafts, also published by David & Charles, and several other books with a rural theme.

Siân Ellis is a travel/heritage writer, who specialises in rural subjects, and is a former editor of Heritage magazine.

The Book of Forgotten Crafts by Paul Felix, Siân Ellis and Tom Quinn is published by David & Charles on 14 April 2011 in hardback at £20.

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I have been fortunate enough to start working with Green Books, environmental publishers for nearly 25 years.  They publish books on all sorts of ecological, spiritual and cultural issues and produce some very useful and practical books on various aspects of organic gardening.

The company is based in beautiful Dartington, near Totnes in Devon.  We will be moving this weekend just down the road, to new offices next to Dartington Hall.

These are the existing offices, at Foxhole, which are proving to be too expensive for the Dartington Trust to maintain, and which will perhaps be converted into accommodation for elderly people.  Lucky them.

Green Books office at Foxhole, Dartington

The quadrangular building was designed by Oswald P. Milne and built in 1931-2 as teaching space, library, common room and accommodation for the senior pupils of Dartington Hall School. As in the junior school at Foxhole, all pupils had their own study-bedrooms and in the boarding houses the sexes were mixed.

The Gymnasium on the site is separately listed and was designed by William Lescaze in 1933/34 and built by Staverton Builders.

Organic salads brought up by the local school

The local school children bring up bags of organic salad leaves and flowers for sale.

Green Books team minus Jon Clift

The Green Books team, from left to right: Stacey, me, Alethea, MD John Elford, Amanda, Bee and Jayne.  Unfortunately Jon was away that day.

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Ruth Binney's new book explores English nature and landscape

Ruth Binney's new book is a quirky take on the English countryside

What is a ‘Snake Stone’ and does it have special healing powers?

œ How would you date an English hedge?

œ Who is the Witch of Wookey Hole?

œ How did the yew tree become sacred?

œ Can the hedgehog forecast cold weather?

The English countryside is a truly remarkable place.  Its secrets include hoards of treasure buried beneath farmers’ fields, carnivorous plants, beetles that fight each other for a mate, strange big cats that prowl the fields and moors, and mysterious ley lines connecting ancient sites.  And among its wonders are the spectacles of thousands of starlings wheeling at dusk, the glow-worm’s green sex signals, wild plants with healing powers and immense figures chalked on hillsides.

Bestselling author Ruth Binney has called on her vast knowledge of English nature and the countryside to create a fascinating and entertaining celebration of the amazing and extraordinary flora and fauna, landscape and customs that give the English countryside and natural history its unique charm and special identity.

The author:

Ruth Binney has been studying the countryside and nature for most of her life.  She holds a degree in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University.  Her work has appeared in many magazines and publications and she is an experienced and respected broadcaster on rural matters.  She is the author of the Wise Words and Country Ways books published by David & Charles.  She lives in West Stafford, a village near Dorchester in Dorset.

Amazing and Extraordinary Facts: The English Countryside by

Ruth Binney is published by David & Charles on 14 April 2011, £9.99, hb.

More Amazing and Extraordinary Facts books coming soon:

Amazing and Extraordinary Facts about Great Britain, British Prime Ministers and Kings & Queens

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These two little books are so cute, they are almost edible.

Amazing & Extraordinary Facts

Two amazing little books

Packed with amazing and extraordinary facts (did you know that when tea was first sold in London in 1657 it cost the princely sum of £6 per pound weight, and was said to have been ‘gathered by virgins’ and would ‘make the body active and lusty’? – or that during the reign of William the Conqueror the pig was considered so valuable that if you killed one illegally you would have your eyes put out?), they’ll amuse and fascinate for hours.  They’re lovely little hardback gift books, and can be pre-ordered from Amazon at £3 off at the moment.

Amazing & Extraordinary Facts: The English Countryside  by Ruth Binney RRP £9.99 hardback; £6.59 from Amazon

Amazing & Extraordinary Facts: Great Britain by Stephen Halliday  RRP £9.99 hardback; £6.59 from Amazon

Both out at the end of this month as part of the Amazing & Extraordinary Facts series published by David & Charles

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Room with a view

After spending a whole day assembling a flat-pack desk and another couple of hours at Staples this morning, I am happy to say that my new office is open for business.

Susie Hallam Marketing and PR office

Susie's new office

And even better, this is my sea view:

View from office of Susie Hallam

The view from my office

And now, down to work…….

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