Herdy® is packing his bags and heading to London this weekend to take part in this year’s Sheep Drive and Livery Fair. This time Herdy Co-Founder Spencer Hannah, returns as a fully-fledged Liveryman, having joined the Worshipful Company of Woolmen earlier this year.
Meet Herdy at this year’s Sheep Drive
The Sheep Drive is organised by the Worshipful Company of Woolmen which is one of the oldest Livery Companies of the City of London, tracing its roots back to 1180. The Lord Mayor will be leading the Freemen of the City in this ewe-nique charity event, re-enacting a Freeman’s ancient right to herd sheep to market over London Bridge, toll-free. The Sheep Drive and Livery Fair demonstrates the enduring link and dependency between the City of London and farming.
Spencer, along with Herdy’s Trade Manager, Giovanna Gagliazzo will be at this year's event, held at The Monument & London Bridge on Sunday 25th September. They’re looking forward to meeting visitors and high profile guests to introduce them to Herdy and HerdySleep® and the exciting reveal of Herdy’s new range of recycled wool and cotton throws.
The Livery Fair will bring together a collection of specialist stall holders, displaying and selling their unique wool-based products and textiles. There will be interactive displays of traditional livery company crafts and skills from the Basket Makers to the Wood Turners and many more between, along with sheep shearing and rare breed sheep displays.
The Lord Mayor of London
Giovanna Gagliazzo and Spencer Hannah.
Earlier this year Herdy Co-Founders, Diane and Spencer Hannah were enrolled into the Worshipful Company of Woolmen - their purpose to champion the Herdwick and its birthplace, the Lake District. The invitation to become Woolmen was in recognition of their work, supporting and raising awareness of the Herdwick sheep breed, since they created Herdy back in 2007.
Particular recognition has been how that increased awareness has added commercial value to the use of the Herdwick wool, used in the company’s award-winning Herdysleep mattress. A value that also provides a greater return to the Lake District’s Upland Fell Farmers. Whilst Herdy® cannot claim to have been solely responsible for the increased market demand, the brand, with its friendly face, lovable products and strong social purpose was recognised by British Wool’s CEO Andrew Hogley:
“British Wool has seen strong demand for Herdwick wool over recent months with auction prices this season well above £1 per kilo. Higher auction prices will in turn lead to better returns for the farmers who sell their Herdwick wool through British Wool’s collective marketing scheme. Demand for Herdwick wool has been driven by a number of manufacturers, predominantly in the carpet and mattress sectors, which specify Herdwick wool, sourced through the British Wool auctions, in their products. The industry has also benefitted from the greater awareness and visibility of the iconic Herdwick breed. Brands such as Herdy have made an important contribution to building this consumer awareness.”
Herdy® and British Wool® are continually in dialogue to explore new collaboration opportunities to support and champion Britain and its wool heritage.
Left to right - Graham Clark - British Wool, Spencer Hannah - Herdy, Andrew Hogley – British Wool.
The History Of The Sheep Drive
In medieval times farmers drove their sheep across London Bridge to sell them at market in the City of London. Freemen of the City were excused from the bridge toll that had to be paid by others crossing the bridge. This was in recognition of their status as local traders.
It’s not entirely clear when the last sheep were driven across London Bridge but it’s likely that the introduction of motorised vehicles in the early 20th century would have signalled the end of the practice.
The tradition of driving sheep across London Bridge has regained interest in recent years due to the uniqueness of event. First organised in 2013, to uphold the tradition of Freemen’s rights, the Worshipful Company of Woolmen arranged their first official Sheep Drive for Freemen of the City and their guests to once again ‘drive’ sheep across London Bridge. The event has been so successful that it’s gone from strength to strength and is now celebrating its 10th year.
Peter Hullah, Master of The Worshipful Company of Woolmen announced,
“We look forward to a very special 10th anniversary Sheep Drive and will celebrate with what is sure to be a vibrant and fun Livery Fair taking place at the monument. It is a chance to delve into the fascinating history of the livery trades, alongside wonderful wool stalls and even a few sheep. It’s a fantastic family day out”
About London’s Livery Companies and Freemen of the City of London:
London's Livery Companies originate from the medieval guilds, which were responsible for the regulation of their given trade. Guilds controlled wages and labour conditions, as well as setting standards, and had effective monopolies on trade within the city of London until Victorian times.
- To join a guild a prospective member had first to be “free” of a feudal overlord. From 1237, tradesmen could buy the right to their freedom - effectively gaining a licence to make money as a trader.
- The Victorians abolished many of the guilds’ trading monopolies, which meant people lost interest in the freedom; it was no longer a necessity. Many of the Livery Companies became charitable organisations and focused on promoting standards.
- Wool played a vital role in the English economy in the Middle Ages, providing a healthy tax income.
- Today, Livery Companies raise over £71M for charities annually.
The Sheep Drive takes place on 25th September: 10am till 4pm at The Monument, City of London, EC3R 8AH. Free entry.