A New flock of Southdown sheep have arrived at Starlings. Sackville Road Bexhill East Sussex I designed and created them to celebrate the now almost forgotten Sussex wool industry.
Historically this British sheep is considered one of the most important breed. Originally sheep were bred for their wool particularly in the Middle Ages. Hence Many of our Sussex public houses are called the the Lamb, the Fleece, The Woolpack, Shepherd and Dog, plus smugglers Inn. The Southdown Sheep is considered to provide high quality fleeces that were exported and during the 100 year war smuggled to France. Today the sheep are valued for their fleece, meat and improving the livestock of other sheep. It is the oldest of the Down sheep.
Romney Sheep are an important part of Sussex and Kent history and environment.
They suit living on the marshes, the sheep produce fleeces that are large and dense. The wool is long, lustrous with fibres ranging from medium course to medium fine. Thus, it is versatile.
This wool was critical to the early England’s dominance in the European wool market. The Romney population was large with much of the wool exported to Europe. Edward I placed a tax on its export. Initially insignificant until the onset of the hundred-year war. The taxes increased significantly to fund the war. Consequently, the shepherds of Romney marsh and Kent’s fishermen took up smuggling wool and other goods to France with considerable profit that outweighed the penalties of smuggling.
Today the Sussex Wildlife Trust use Romney Sheep to graze the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve to maintain the grassland where birds that feed, roost and nest. Without this intervention the area would quickly become scrub and then woodland. To suit the needs of the wildlife supported on the reserve sheep grazing areas and times of the year are part of their annual planning Sheep graze from September to March only. This allows for the favoured plants important to the longer tongued bumblebees.