From an 18th century stone town house in the Welsh border town of Hay-on-Wye, I have established a thriving business, The Great English Outdoors. Initially trained as a saddler, I have transferred my skills to designing and making beautiful leather goods of the highest quality My collection of leather goods reflects the saddler’s emphasis on strength and durability. The leather collection is worked in three exceptional qualities of leather, either Classic English, 200 year old Russian Reindeer or English Bridle; all are showcased in the shop and on the website
Classic English is a traditional saddlery leather. It has a rich chocolate colour and deeply embossed grain. Originally this leather came from Scotland, from slow maturing Aberdeen Angus cattle, and because of its strength and durability was used for making saddle girths, Gladstone and kit bags. In recognition of its origins this leather was given its distinctive grain, emblematic of the Scottish wild oat
The remarkable Russian Reindeer leather is richly aromatic and grained with a cross hatched finish; and remained undiscovered in a shipwreck at the bottom of the sea for 200 years. Each item, worked in this, the Stradivarius of leathers, is stamped 1786 with our maker’s mark and accompanied by a certificate giving the story of its amazing discovery and salvage from the wreck in Plymouth Sound
English Bridle Leather is the archetypal saddler’s leather, traditionally used for making bridles and harnesses. Strong enough for a horse, it is overqualified for our range of belts, dog collars, leads and blanket straps. Available in a choice of colours: black, dark old brown, nut brown and chestnut
The rich smell of leather is all pervading from the handstitchedwallets, purses, bags, belts, dog collars and leads on display in the shop and on the website. It is a tragedy that these scents and aromas cannot be conveyed through the pages of the website! I used to design and make everything in my workshop at Mortimer House. After a serious injury to my wrist, coupled with an increase in demand for our products, I have trained my own craftsmen to continue the artistry in my workshop. I still oversea all aspects of the creation of my collection, from the selection of the the hides and the design of the products to its making and its packaging. Each leather piece is lovingly wrapped in layers of tissue and beautifully packaged in hand made paper boxes (made locally for The Great English Outdoors)
As a child I loved leather, I would visit a saddlery with my polo playing father, and I was immediately seduced by the rich aromas of these raw materials and the atmosphere of the workshops. Through my love of horses I made my first career in eventing and schooling other people’s mounts until I suffered a serious injury. As a result I went on to train in Saddlery at Cordwainer’s College in London and having graduated moved to Cirencester in Gloucestershire. As a Saddler who had ridden competitively, I could understand what eventing horses and riders required; and I was living in an area with almost more horses than people which enabled me to run my bespoke saddlery business successfully.
With my move to Hay-on-Wye in 1980s I diversified and designed a wider range of leather goods, all made and designed by me with traditional techniques for my new shop, The Great English Outdoors.