Monday, 3 May 2010

Somerset Willow

Hi all and hope a great bank holiday was enjoyed by all despite the weather. I have been continuing my interest in traditional crafts and thought I'd tell you a bit about Somerset Willow as it's local to me.
The low floodplain of the Somerset Levels has always been ideal for willow growing.Willow has been found woven into prehistoric track ways and into baskets and hurdles on Iron Age and Roman sites in the region. In the 19th century thousands of acres of willows were planted on the Somerset Levels to meet the growing demand for baskets in Industrial Britain. Basket-making became an important trade in and around Taunton, Bridgwater and Street.
Today there are still families who traditionally farm willows and basket-makers who weave shopping baskets, pigeon baskets, laundry hampers and cribs for babies. Willow growers continue to grade their willows by hand and now send bundles by courier to customers world-wide.
Basket-makers have expanded their repertoire to include willow coffins, conservatory furniture and contemporary structures and hurdles for the garden. Willow sculptors create monumental willow effigies, the most notable being The Willow Man on the M5, as seen below.
Somerset's deep relationship with willow began thousands of years ago and today’s willow growers and makers continue this unbroken tradition. Below is the link to The Willows and Wetlands Visitor Centre, the home of P. H. Coate & Son, founded by willow grower and merchant Robert Coate in 1819, and still run by the Coate family today, for more information and details on how to learn this traditional craft!


  1. Quite often we hear about traditions but think no more of it, but it is great when we hear the background of it. Thank you for this interesting post
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  2. Enjoyed your post very much indeed (-:

  3. That's really interesting. I like the idea of a willow coffin.

  4. Thanks very much for your comments and I'm pleased you found it interesting too, I will be writing about another traditonal craft soon! Great to know I'm not just talking to myself! Di x

  5. The Willow Man is just down the road from me. The lorry drivers call him 'Alan' as in Alan Wicker! Wicker being another name for willow.


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