Athene English’s Private Welsh Blanket Collection
I thought it would be interesting to show some of the Welsh blankets I have kept in my own private collection
These are the blankets that have given me an insight into the history of the Welsh wool industry and made me see the beauty of these wonderful welsh textiles
The first example is a simple black and white welsh tapestry
This was the first tapestry I bought at an auction in North Wales some 30 years ago. What struck me most about this tapestry was its simplicity and the monochrome palette. I bought another blanket at the same auction but later on in the day, a Tapestry in shades of red and green. Simple – strong colours, but utterly striking and beautiful.
At that time I was living in a very old and cold Welsh cottage in the hills above Harlech.
The winters were long and harsh and the rain seemed to blow horizontally from miles away, all the way across from the Llyn Peninsular and strike the cottage with such force. The landscape and buildings were bleak in these conditions, but on discovering this beautiful tapestry, I realised that the houses must have been full of colour, decorated with these wonderful textiles which served to keep the interiors warm and look decorative as well.
This simple tapestry is small in size and is most unusual. Although I have found other black and white tapestries, I have never found another one quite like it. This example is so finely woven and unusually made from a combination of wool and linen.
It is like all Welsh tapestries and woven as a double cloth, therefore reversible… It is small in size, and probably made to go on a small box bed. In the photograph you will see both sides of the cloth and also the border design of “spindles” around all four sides, which acts as a frame to the main design in the centre of the tapestry.
This blanket is a great treasure to me, and reminds me of my time in North Wales, and encouraged me to look for more Welsh tapestries and blankets, and try to discover more about the people who bought these textiles and the history mills where they were made