Local amateur historian and Axminster Heritage Centre volunteer, David Knapman has been awarded the prestigious W.G Hoskins Prize for his book, ‘Unsteady Progress – A History of Axminster from [...]
The Axminster Heritage Ltd. 2022 Annual General Meeting was held on
Monday 28th November 2022
Temporary Exhibition at Axminster Heritage Centre
The Theme of Our summer exhibition 2022 was Spinning a Yarn: The story of Sheep and Axminster which opened on Saturday 16th April.
The exhibition showed how sheep and wool have played their part in the development of Axminster and the surrounding areas since the Iron Age. It was launched on the morning of Saturday 16th April 2022 morning with sheep shearing taking place in our courtyard. There were lambs and a ram for people to pet.
Many people might have questioned the suitability of bringing sheep into the Axminster Heritage Centre, especially as we have on display some of the original Thomas Whitty Axminster carpets made during the Georgian period. However, in the design process we undertook in 2018 and 2019, we included an outdoor space where we could hold events and activities. In truth, corralling sheep in the courtyard had not been one of the suggestions for its use. In 2020 we had planned to do an exhibition on the story of sheep in Axminster and had planned to bring in sheep in April 2020. With Covid forcing our closure back then and heavily restricting what we could do in 2021 we delayed the exhibition until 2022. We watched on as Easter 2020 and 2021 were days of glorious sunshine and regretted we had lost the opportunity on those days to bring in sheep. We needn’t have worried as on Saturday 16th April 2022 the Heritage Centre basked in sunshine. Carol Miltenberg brought in 11 sheep from her small holding into our courtyard, some of which were hand sheared in front of the waiting crowds. Visitors could ask questions about the hand shearing, the sheep breed and how the wool was processed after being collected. The sheep naturally drew people close and many were surprised at how tame they were, with many able to pet the sheep, feed them and for some lucky younger visitors they were able to give a lamb a cuddle. It proved to be a great day for all the visitors, especially the families and all visitors left with a smiles on their faces and for some an experience they had never had before, or expected.
The sheep were the first part of a very active summer season at the Axminster Heritage Centre, mostly linked to our temporary exhibition ‘Spinning a Yarn: The Story of Axminster and Sheep’. Wool from the sheep shearing was used in a number of workshops allowing people to take part in skirting and cleaning the fleece, carding the wool, spinning the wool and then using the wool in a number of creative ways. There were also a series of related talks.