These 600 year old stone homes were once part of the wool industry...


Arlington Row, Bibury, England


This is Arlington Row in Bibury, England. The beautiful terrace was built over 600 years ago. The village came to prominence when the Victorian designer William Morris called Bibury, "The most beautiful village in England". The picturesque stone cottages of Arlington Row were built in 1380, originally as a monastic wool store.


About 300 years later the buildings were converted into cottages for weavers who weaved cloth for fulling at the nearby Mill. The water mills constructed for this purposes were known as fulling mills and for centuries the surrounding area resounded to the hammering of the fulling stocks as they prepared the cloth.

The picture below (right) is the Fulling Mill across the River Alre in Alresford, England. It dates back to the 13th century. Now a private house, it was saved from demolition in 1951. It had become derelict in the 19th century when the cloth industry established large mechanised mills.

Fulling is the process of removing oils from wool, while at the same time softening and thickening the cloth. Before mechanised fulling mills were introduced in the medieval period the process was done by hand and feet using urine (ammonia) to remove the oils. You can see how this was done in the upper video right.

In Scotland fulling is known as waulking, again using urine during the process. A tradition of singing developed around the work. Here is a group from Argyll, Scotland singing in Gaelic while fulling the cloth. After fulling (or waulking) the cloth was stretched on frames known as tenters, where it was held in place by tenterhooks. It is from this process that the phrase 'on tenterhooks' is derived, meaning to be held in suspense.

  How fulling woolen cloth is done  

Tony demonstrates Fulling
WARNING: Not for the squeamish


  An Argyll Waulking Song  

Waulking Song by Sgioba Luaidh
Lyrics in Gaelic and English


Weaver's Cottage, Bibury


Fulling Mill, Alresford, England