English Willow Coffin Making


I bet this blog post’s title really surprised you, didn’t it? Well, yes, English willow coffin-making is taking place and being woven over “across the pond” in England and has been for many years.

I was so fortunate to watch coffins being made while I was on a McKnight Fellowship in England during the spring of 2006.

I spent ten days with my host, Olivia Elton Barratt, visiting and learning about the willow growers, basketmakers, and rush and chair caning seat weavers.

Olivia took me all over England to see basket makers and chair caners, but I especially enjoyed my time down in the Somerset Levels area.

Olivia Elton Barratt & Cathryn Peters, Somerset UK 2006

If you are a long-time subscriber to this blog, you will remember when Olivia Elton Barratt and I visited the guys at The Somerset Willow Company, LTD, what a thrill that was for me!

In case you missed it, here’s the link to my first of many posts about my travel experience in the spring of 2006. Hello, Hello, Hello return from England

Here’s a wonderful willow coffin-making video by my friends at The Somerset Willow Company, LTD for you to enjoy!

In this post are some of the pictures I took at The Somerset Willow Company, LTD with Olivia during our visit in June 2006.

Owners Aubrey and Darrell Hill took time away from their busy schedules to give us a tour of their workshops and sales area.

In the first picture below, Aubrey and Darrell are weaving a hot air balloon gondola that would hold twelve passengers, the pilot and the propane tanks. Boy, was that ever big and took a lot of weaving time to complete!

Somerset Willow weaving gondola
Aubrey and Darrell Hill with Olivia Elton Barratt by a hot air balloon gondola

In this photo below, a worker is weaving an environmentally friendly willow coffin using debarked or white willow at The Somerset Willow Company, LTD in 2006.

weaving-willow-coffins-England-Somerset-Willow Co
Willow coffin making at The Somerset Willow Company 2006

As you can see, my old pictures don’t do this very fine company’s willow coffins justice.

So I suggest you visit The Somerset Willow Company, LTD website and see for yourself what interesting coffins, furniture, hot-air balloon basket gondolas and basketry they offer.

Did you know you can order one of the coffins for yourself or a loved one and have it shipped to the USA? Just check on their Order tab. Isn’t that just about the coolest thing you’ve ever heard of? We’re keeping it green here, too!

My visit to this shop was one of the biggest highlights of my visit to England, and I thank Darrell Hill and his father, Aubrey, for spending so much time showing us around and making us feel so very welcome.

What are your thoughts about this blog post?

Leave your comments below and share with your social networks!

~~Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much ~~

Happy Weaving, until next time!

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4 thoughts on “English Willow Coffin Making”

    1. Sorry Mother Isidore Maria, but I do not know what variety of willow was used for the coffins in Somerset, England but you can go to the Somerset Willow website and inquire there. Several growers are located there in Somerset Levels and their willow is a wonderful quality! Also, are you aware that there’s a willow grower right there in Ohio, too? His name is Howard Peller and he has his willow farm business, the Basket Farmer, in Roseville, OH. I’m sure he could advise you as to the best willow to use for weaving coffins if that’s what you are interested in pursuing. When you contact Howard be sure to tell him that I referred you to him. I was in a willow basket course with him in Canada in 2013 and thought he was delightful! Basket Farmer

  1. Cathryn, I just watched the willow casket being made. That was awesome to watch him work.

    I can see why folks like working with willow.

    1. Dee, I was fortunate enough to watch them weaving the coffins at Somerset Willow in 2006 when I traveled to England on the Fellowship Grant. The guys there in the factory are expert weavers and the basketweaving willow varieties are a delight to use. Far better and easier to work with than my wild willow that grows around here in northern Minnesota, I tell you!

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