Saturday 23 April 2011

T is for Trug – that is what T is for ...

A Sussex Trug

A true artisan craft is to be found in the Sussex Weald a few miles inland from the coast.  I am delighted that T for Trug came up ... as I’ve learnt so much and hope you enjoy the story too, the two websites and News links within one site enhance this post.

A trug is a wooden vessel or boat shaped article and is derived from ‘trog’ an Anglo Saxon word.  Originally they were used as measures or scoops for grain, feed or even liquid ... though a quick dash was required to safely deliver the liquid!

They became basket like and are now made in a variety of shapes and sizes, making them ideal for many home and garden jobs ... harvesting garden produce, gathering and displaying flowers, to storing fruit or eggs.

The stories on the two websites (I have linked to) are interesting .. reminding us how times were ... the handle and rim are cleaved from coppiced sweet chestnut, using a cleaving axe or froe, then held in a shaving horse and smoothed with a drawknife before being bent a around a former.

Peter Marden putting in
the centre board first
Then the boards are prepared from cricket-bat willow, again using the drawknife and shaving horse.  The coppiced willow too is sourced as off-cuts from a cricket bat maker.

Coppicing again is an old art ... maintaining trees at a juvenile stage, while regularly coppiced trees will never die of old age, giving the woodland a rich variety of habitats, which is beneficial for biodiversity.

The Truggery at Coopers Croft, Herstmonceux has a wonderful history ... the workshop and Croft house have been in existence for over 200 years plying their trug trade ... but there are records of trugs and makers dating back to the 16th century.

Trugs became famous after they were shown at the Great Exhibition in 1851 and Queen Victoria ordered a consignment for members of the Royal Family.  On completion of the order, the precious cargo of trugs was loaded into a wheelbarrow and walked to Buckingham Palace – a mere 60 miles or so.

Garden Trug from
The Truggery shop
Fortunately this wonderful artisan craft has been continued by a few master craftsmen, their stories told through the media ... and their art available for purchase direct, from The Truggery or local Wood Fairs – as there is nothing to replace the traditional Sussex Trug for its strength and durability.

This is a Trug    that is what T is for ..

The Truggery, Herstmonceux, East Sussex

Part of the ABC - April 2011 - A - Z Challenge - Aspects of the British Countryside

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


Unknown said...

How wonderful that these ancient crafts are still surviving. Long may they do so.

baygirl32 said...

I had no clue what they were! thanks for explaining

Bossy Betty said...

SO cool I learned something today!

Anonymous said...

Its great that artisans keep crafts from a bygone era alive. How many have been lost to the sands of time. Often archeologists find stuff and wonder, "How the heck did the ancients make this?"

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love trugs. Makes me feel like a real gardener! I'm loving the glorious sunny weather. So uplifting! :O)

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I've never heard of a trug before. The first one looks like it is made with fabric. I might try and find one when I'm visiting Nanny and Grandad (and you) this fall. It seems like it would be a better way to carry veg to the house than by my current method. LOL, I carry them in my t-shirt and make lots of trips.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Carole Anne .. it is wonderful that craftsmen live on and pass on their traditions .. the websites say more.

@ Baygirl .. I hope you appreciate their gardening value now!!

@ Bossy Betty .. oh good - it's great this learning lark ...

@ Stephen .. you're so right - they're having a great 'todo' here at the moment about farming & churning up the countryside ... a little late in the day - but things still are found .. and as you say - how on earth did they make them ..

@ Madeleine - ah!! the true gardener amongst us .. I can see you pottering amongst your flowers and pots with trug in hand ..

Exactly - this weather is just too wonderful .. and it is uplifting we just want to do so much ..

Happy Easters everyone .. and enjoy the surfeit of chocolate?! Cheers Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sharon .. the websites show a little more .. it does look a little fabric covered - but as it said Sussex Trug - I presume it's an older weathered one!!

I'm sure it would be a better way to carry veggies from the garden up to the house .. than stretchy T-shirt material!!

I'm not sure how heavy they'd be .. or inconvenient to pack .. but definitely worth a look ..

Nearer the time we can sort things out .. it'll be great to meet up ..

Looking forward to that .. but going to enjoy our very early hot weather now!! Happy Easter - Hilary

Susan Scheid (Raining Acorns) said...

We received a trug as a gift from a friend in England some time back, and I wondered at the time, why that shape? Of course, I've since discovered that the shape is perfect for gathering so many different things in the garden. We treasure our trug, and it's nice to learn more of its story.

MorningAJ said...

I almost bought one while we were down in Sussex a couple of weeks ago. I think they're marvellous. (But Im supposed to be decluttering - not buying more!)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Raining Acorns .. what a jolly nice present .. and as you realised they are just great for so many things - but over the years different shapes have been made depending on the need .. eg fish ones for the Yarmouth Herring catch .. long ones for cucumbers .. etc etc .. the websites are worth looking at ..

@ Morning AJ .. ah! They are beautiful aren't they and so practical .. but if you're downsizing and decluttering .. I can see the dilemma of do I buy or don't I .. difficult decisions.

Trugs last for years too .. and can be repaired ..

Sorry you didn't buy one on your trip down here .. I hope you're having as good weather as we are ..

Happy Easter .. Hilary

Jannie Funster said...

Well, how lovely!

A bug in a trug
did tug and tug
on a leaf of green
I think from a bean.


Chuck said...

Never heard of this before but when I saw the picture I thought it was an old fashioned baby basket!

T. Powell Coltrin said...

I love the Trug. I love good craftmanship. I worry that wonderful crafts like these will die if new generations don't learn.

Great T article.


Chris Edgar said...

Hi Hilary -- nothing more distinctively associated with the English countryside than trugs, is there -- except maybe for bubble and squeak. :) And trees can be kept alive indefinitely! I had no idea. Thanks for another informative and eclectic entry.

Unknown said...

I never knew...thanks for bringing Truggery to our attention!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Very enjoyable story, Hilary. Thanks. Happy Easter.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Jannie .. A poem for the trug .. and bugs all .. beans would fill the trug happily .. good to see you .. xoxox

@ Chuck .. ah - not a Moses basket .. but a good old master crafted veggie carrier .. good to see you

@ Teresa .. so true .. luckily the Trug survived along with the tools - the history on the URLs is very interesting .. saved by dedicated master craftsmen ..

Good to see you back ..

@ Chris .. lovely to see you here .. and cricket? Bubble and Squeak .. I love! Trugs kept around the garden - ready for use in all jobs ..

Yes by coppicing each species of tree .. on different time scales .. trees can be kept alive for decades, centuries even ... so pleased you picked this up.

@ Ellie - delighted that you found the post fun .. and Trugs will be remembered .. can't help it with a name like that!

@ Joylene .. thanks - good to see you ..

Have wonderful Easters everyone - thanks for coming by .. Hilary

Chase March said...

I love to see old traditions and ways of doing things carried on. It's nice to see things that are made with care and effort and not just mass produced from a plastic material.

I never knew what a trug was before visiting here today. Thanks for a great history, art, and ecological lesson!

Happy Easter!

San said...

What a lovely bit of history on Easter. Thanks, Hilary :) Hope you're having a fabulous day :)

TALON said...

I'd never heard of a trug - how fascinating!

I hope you and your mother have a beautiful Easter, Hilary!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Chase .. isn't it wonderful .. the 'old boys' came out to pass on their craft to the newcomers .. so now there are a few trug makers. Exactly as you say Chase ..

So delighted that you've enjoyed your tour back in time .. history, art and ecology .. I aim to please!

@ San - many thanks .. delighted to read your comment - and isn't it fantastic .. if you're in England! beautiful weather ..

@ Talon - interesting type of measuring 'baskets' from the Middle Ages .. now used very effectively by gardeners ..

Thank you Chase, San and Talon for your Easter wishes .. my Mama has been sleeping .. but I've enjoyed the beautiful weather we've been having .. Happy Easters to you too .. Hilary

Laura said...

It's great to see these crafts are still practised, even if only by a few. Trugs are beautiful - I remember my gran using one in the garden a lot.
Thanks for your comments!

Connie Arnold said...

Truly interesting, Hilary! I've been catching up on reading some of your recent posts. I always learn something from you! Happy Easter!

vered said...

Interesting - I always learn something new here.

Glynis Jolly said...

I thought a trug was a word that came from the Vikings.

Amy @ Soul Dipper said...

I never thought to ask if these perfect containers had a name. Thanks for educating me, Hilary! My parents had a couple - goodness knows where they were made. They were soooo handy.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Laura .. thanks and you're so right - it's so important to keep these skills alive. Interesting about your grandmother using a trug .. good memories of those times.

@ Connie - delighted that you've enjoyed the posts .. they've been fun to write.

@ Vered - many thanks ..

@ Glynis .. the word 'trug' sounds exactly like that doesn't it .. well near enough - the Saxons were in the germanic regions .. whereas the Vikings came from the Norseland (Scandinavia)

@ Amy .. possibly your parents or friends brought them over by ship for their use .. perhaps they were made locally .. as you say - who knows! Interesting that you and they found them so handy ..

Thanks everyone .. delighted to see you all and that you've enjoyed finding out more about trugs .. they come in all shapes and sizes for different uses .. that's what I found interesting ..

Have wonderful Easter Mondays .. cheers Hilary


A most wonderful post Hilary, thanks for visiting and the lovely comments.

Sara said...

One thing that's so nice about Britain is that it keeps so many of the old customs alive. I enjoyed learning about the Trug and how it's made.

Good T, Hilary. Thanks:~)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Yvonne .. thanks for coming past .. it's good to read your poems and the memories you bring out .. I expect you see trugs as you visit Gardens ..

@ Sara .. we have so many localised traditions that haven't dissipated too much fortunately - but sadly the practitioners die off sometimes and the art is lost forever.

Thanks Sara - glad you enjoyed T for Trug .. you might see some on your next visit?!

Thanks Yvonne and Sara .. enjoy today .. cheers Hilary