The slaughter and cruelty free Doulton Flock was established in 1996 with the purchase of 2 pure pedigree Border Leicester ewe lambs from Lanark Market. We are based in Nunthorpe, North Yorkshire and currently have the largest flock of pedigree Border Leicesters in The UK, 300 ewes and followers.
The Border Leicester is one of the oldest breed of British livestock, the origins of which there are no doubt. They are the lineal descendants of the Dishley Leicesteres, bred and made famous by Robert Bakewell (1726-1795) of Dishley, Leicestershire. Robert Bakewell followed on the work of arable pioneers, Jethro Tull and Lord “Turnip” Townsend, but it is in the field of livestock, especially sheep, that Bakewell excelled.
At this time all sheep ran together, breeding at random, resulting in many different breeds, all with their own unique, but random characteristics. Bakewell segregated the sexes, allowing mating only to occur deliberately and specifically. He developed a system of breeding termed “in and in” breeding animals of close relationship with each other or “line breeding” as it is known today.
It is thought that he started with the old Lincolnshire breed, crossing them with the best of the Leicestershire types, and then, by breeding “in and in”, coupled with rigorous selection and culling was able to fix desirable characteristics for improved meat quality and production through pre-potency. Bakewell called the new breed the New Leicester, becoming known very quickly as the “Dishley Leicester”
These New Leicester sheep very quickly found favour with farmers in surrounding counties and Bakewell began hiring out his rams. He started in 1760, hiring at 17 shillings and 6 pence per ram. By 1786 he let 20 rams for 1000 guineas each and rose to 1200 guineas for just 3 rams in 1789. The equivalent of £90,000 today.
Bakewell established the Dishley Society to maintain the purity and to monopolise the breed.
The Dishly blood found it’s way North to the Border Counties when in 1767 George and Matthew Culley settled in the Glendale district of Northumberland. They had both been students of Bakewell in 1763 and, after travelling extensively, settled as tenant farmers in Northumberland. These improved Leicesters soon found themselves established on both sides of the Borders as a result of the annual sales of both ewes and rams. By this time there were two distinct types of “Dishley Leicesters” evolving in the Borders. The Culley Brothers were initially crossing them with the local Teeswater breed but other farmers were crossing in some Cheviot blood. This led to the two variations being called “The Bluecaps” and “The Redlegs”. The Border farmers preferred the hardier Redlegs and by about 1850 this variation of the “Dishley Leicester” had become known as the Border Leicester.
Border Leicesters are now classed as rare breed sheep and are on the RBST list.
Our premium, native breed, rare breed, slaughter free, cruelty free, ethically produced, single farm, 100% pure British Border Leicester wool is scoured, carded and combed, before being worsted spun, dyed and skeined locally in Yorkshire, England. Our beautiful Border Leicester yarn is not blended with any other wool or nylon.
Doulton Border Leicester wool is made from the fleeces of sheep that live to grow old.
These rare breed British sheep produce beautiful fleeces with a long staple length and distinct crimp. This fibre spins to a wonderfully lofty yarn with a lovely natural spring and bounce to it. The handle of the yarn makes it a joy to work with for quick and easy projects and intricate colour work alike: it slips smoothly on and off the needles without losing the strength needed for structured garments.
It is available in UK DK/Double knitting, UK 4ply/fingering and UK Aran weight yarns, in both 100g skeins and 20/25g skeins which drape and dye so well.
Our colours and names are inspired by the countryside around us, by the moors and hills and lakes around us in North Yorkshire.
We currently have several beautiful, vibrant and natural colours in the DK, 4ply and in our Aran range. These colours range from beautiful muted colours to beautiful bright vibrant colours.
We are often complimented on our range of colours all the time!
In the Aran we have 8 wonderful colours. The colours run from very muted colours through to bright jewel brilliance.
We also stock a range of combed and carded undyed Tops, which are perfect for the spinner, knitting kits, greasy fleece and a large range of mini skeins, based on the countryside and coast around us, here in North Yorkshire. All with full provenance.
Where to find us
We are an online seller and we provide a very fast, professional service, with most orders going out within 48 hours.
You will see us at some of more prestigious Wool Shows and Yarn Events throughout the year, in various parts of the UK. You can check our Shows page for upcoming events we will be at. We promote the shows and events on our Blog page nearer the time of the shows.
We also have Stockists of our Doulton Border Leicester branded yarns throughout the UK and are about to add several more in the USA.
Join us Knitters
Turn your hobbies into cash! Hand knitters, Machine Knitters and Crocheters required to join our new team of knitters, creating garments with our premium Border Leicester yarn and exclusive patterns. On a piece work basis that fits in with your lifestyle.