Southdown Sheep

Date Published: April 14, 2021
Categories: Blog | Wool Facts

In Sussex sheep were reared mostly for their wool.  An estimated 110,000 sheep were part of the Middle Ages Sussex landscape. Battle Abbey owned about 3000 sheep, other parish records show amongst others Bexhill, Alfriston, Friston and Brighton having 2000 sheep each.

In 1773, Gilbert White records the difference between sheep westwards of the river Adur, being horned, with smooth white faces and legs, while eastwards all the flocks were hornless, with “black faces with a white tuft of wool on their foreheads, and speckled and spotted legs.”  The original Southdown was bred by John Ellman of Glynde about 200 years ago. He saw the potential of raising sheep that produced both good wool and meat. In 1813, 200,000 Southdown sheep were kept on the eastern Southdown. By day they grazed the open downs and at dusk went down to the lower arable land to fold. As the chalky Downs are not fertile, closely folding sheep manure and trample small areas of ground ready for crops to grow. War, the collapse of the wool trade and modern farming methods caused the decline of the Southdown and placed them on the watch list by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.  There is now a revival of the breed and Southdown are seen all over the United Kingdom as well as in other sheep farming countries.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Hi, I’m Valerie

I live in a rural market town in East Sussex, close to both the South Downs and the coast. I am a felt artist and I love making and teaching.  Find out more on my About Me page

You May Also Like…

Chicken Egg Cosy

Chicken Egg Cosy

Chicken egg cosies to keep your breakfast egg snug and warm. Available at Starlings Art & Craft Collective, Bexhill and Dippy Doodahs Hailsham . Wool is naturally insulating and thermal keeping boiled eggs ready to eat. A lovely Mothering Sunday and Easter gifts. Enjoy them!

read more
Sunglass Cases

Sunglass Cases

These beautiful wool felt handmade glasses cases are strong and robust. They have an invisible magnet to keep the flap closed.  Included is a microfiber cleaning cloth to help keep your glasses lenses smudge free.   
The cases are made over a resist making them seamless
Measurements are approximately 20 x 10 cm  
The are being retailed at £14.50 through Starlings Arts and Crafts Collective and Dippy Doodahs in Hailsham 

read more