A chat with Romney Marsh Wools

Romney Marsh Wools are fantastic company based in Kent. There family have been keeping Romney sheep on the Romney marsh since 1882. They are championing this indigenous breed and creating truly sustainable products while looking after the animals and land for the future. We had a chat with company director Kristina, take a look what she had to say below.

Romeny Marsh Wools is a family business, here you can see Mum, Dad and two children on their farm.

Where are you based?  We are on the Romney Marsh in Kent.

How did your family start the Romney Marsh flock? Our family has lived and worked on Romney Marsh for six generations, my husband Paul’s Great, Great Grandfather started keeping the indigenous Romney Breed back in 1882 when he started farming here on the Romney Marsh. The Romney sheep (dated back to the early 13th Century) have become one of the most successful and important breeds of sheep around the world, their main characteristic is an ability to feed in wet situations; they are more resistant to foot rot and internal parasites than any other breed. Our main farm although a commercial enterprise growing crop mainly has evolved over the years to embrace its assets and try to involve and educate the public about farming and its importance in today’s modern growing and demanding world. Today we own a breeding flock of circa 1,200 Romney ewes. Historically wool was a high value commodity, however for the last fifty years sheep in Britain have been kept primarily for the production of meat due to the use of man-made fibres the value of wool has reduced significantly.

Romney Marsh Wools was born through a firm belief in raising the awareness of all the benefits wool can bring and a wide range of products are produced using our own Romney wool. Each of the products are made by the very best British makers, all of whom are experts in their field and many who still use traditional techniques. The range includes homewares such as throws, blankets & cushions as well as clothing ranging from flat caps and baker style caps to scarves, ponchos and moccasins to name just a few Lanolin is a naturally occurring fat in wool and this is used to produce a range of toiletries including shower gel, shampoo, soap and moisturiser.

What’s your favourite thing about working with sheep? Worst thing? Sheep are really lovely animals, curious and very humorous to watch and be around Everything about them has such purpose, from grazing and managing our landscape to producing their wonderful fleece with lanolin as well as the lambs that are born annually. Whilst lambing is an immensely busy time it is still my favourite time of year with all the little lambs born as it really does signify Spring. The worst thing about keeping sheep is when you loose one, this is just something you never can get accustomed to and it is still heart-breaking.

A romney sheep with its lamb on the romney marsh in Kent

What inspires your business? Our sheep, our incredible gifted makers and our customers. Our range has grown organically over the years as our business has, it is ever evolving and we absolutely get inspired by suggestions from our customers as well as our makers, by understanding our wool qualities and its benefits has further enhanced the range and the experience we can offer from our business. As family farmers we feel a huge responsibility in being able to share our knowledge and educate customers about our farm, our sheep and our products as well as all the benefits that this magnificent natural wool material brings from the lanolin to the fibre itself, and we strongly believe that there is something available for everyone.

What do you love most about wool? Wool is an amazing natural gift and by-product off sheep, it is natural, renewable, incredible versatile and sustainable, absolutely everything we need to look after our environment. Since the stone age wool has been appreciated as one of the most effective forms of all-weather protection known to man, and science is yet to produce a fibre which matches its unique properties. Wool fibres are crimped, and when tightly packed together they form millions of tiny pockets of air. This unique structure allows it to absorb and release moisture. Wool is both renewable and biodegradable. Each year sheep will produce a new fleece and at the end of its life wool can be returned to the soil, where it decomposes releasing valuable nutrients into the ground. Wool fibres resist tearing and can be bent back on themselves over 20,000 times without breaking. The fibre is also naturally elastic and therefore maintains its appearance in the longer term, adding value to the product and its lifespan. The protective waxy coating (Lanolin) on wool fibres make wool products resistant to staining and they also pick up less dust, as wool is naturally anti-static. Recent innovations mean wool products are no longer hand-wash only and easy to care for. Lanolin is the naturally occurring fat in wool which waterproofs sheep. It has many beneficial attributes and is often used in cosmetics as it is gentle, rich and soothing and helps keep skin hydrated. All wool is naturally hypoallergenic. It’s resistant to mould growth, and it inhibits dust mites which cause most of the allergic reactions. Wool is ideal if you suffer from asthma or allergies. The softness of wool is measured in microns looking at a single fibre strand. On average a human hair is about 100 microns, a highland sheep is around 50 microns (so quite rough and not soft to wear against the skin). However, Romney fleeces are considered to be one of the finer British Breeds at around 32 microns. Merino knitting wool, which is world famous for being super fine, has been developed down to as fine as 9 microns which means that it is more than five times finer than a human hair, and in fact most people who are allergic or cannot wear wool because it irritates their sensitive skin, would be able to wear Merino wool. Romney Marsh Wools was born through a firm belief that we wanted to raise awareness of all the benefit that British wool can bring.

What do you hope people will enjoy about your wool throws? Provenance, Animal Welfare and UK manufactured. We hope that our customers will enjoy the high quality of our wool and the craftmanship in which the throws are made through our UK mills. We can give our customers the full knowledge that there is full traceability from farm to product and knowledge that our sheep are well cared for and looked after. Customers are purchasing a little bit of Romney Marsh history which we hope that they will be able to pass on to future generations.

What is your personal favourite in your collection and why? Our personal favourite is our Herringbone Marsh Fern Throws, we absolutely love the bold design and Natural grey which is achieved through blending our natural coloured and cream fleeces. The thickness of the throws gives such natural warmth and are just so snuggly.

A lady sits in the shepherds hut on Romney Marsh with a Romney wool blanket wrapped around her shoulders

What achievement of your business are you most proud of? Our Romney Sheep form an important part to our farm as they graze and manage our landscape, they are wonderful mothers who love their lambs, and they produce a wonderful versatile, natural and sustainable fleece which we sheer once a year around June/July. The flock are sheared on the farm and hand-processed by traditional weavers in the UK and sold as high-quality life-style products. We have a sizeable flock that are farmed traditionally, and we have full traceability of our wool from farm to product. From rearing our sheep on the farm, to processing everything within the UK every strep can be traced so provenance and quality is at the heart of everything we do. We are so incredible proud of all the collaborations we have made and how we are supporting a circular and local economy which we hope our children will one day be able to carry on ‘to be a farmer is a way of life, it’s a responsibility to maintain as well as improve a sustainable landscape for future generations to benefit from. Sheep maintain the landscape, without them it would all look very different. It is imperative that we maintain the numbers so that the landscape can continue to thrive.’

Click here to shop our Romney Marsh Wool throws.

You can also visit the Romney Marsh Wools website to view all their products.