Today, my last full day in the U.K. was the day I was looking forward to the most! I have been following the Risby Flock of Lincoln Longwools since I first heard about their flock after Louise's wool wedding dress made international news! Get ready for photo overload!
We headed from York to a little village in Lincolnshire called Market Rasen. This was just over an hour and half to the southeast. We headed over the Humber Bridge, a very large suspension bridge and into Lincolnshire. The views were amazing and the agriculture larger than other areas we traveled to throughout the week. We drove through the little village of Market Rasen and down several very small curvy roads before catching our first glimpse of Risby Grange. From what people who had been on this trip before said, finding them was much easier this time!
When they purchased their home, they knew nothing about sheep or farming, but realized 50 acres was a lot to manage without grazing and decided to look into getting sheep. Louise and Ian headed to an auction to learn more about sheep and was intrigued by the Lincolns they saw. They made a budget and were able to buy six ewes at the Heckington sale. That first year they had to borrow stock trailers for lambing, and ended up with nine lambs. After that, they built field shelters, a lambing shed, and began to grow their flock.
Ian was the one who first decided that they show their Lincolns. Louise wasn’t convinced, but after agreeing and placing at the bottom at their first show, she was hooked and decided she wanted to improve the flock. They found going to shows was the best way to improve and over the coming years, have improved their flock drastically.
Louise and Ian ended up with Lincolns by chance, but it wasn’t long before they realized that they weren’t the first ones to have Lincolns at Risby. They came across a newspaper from the 1820’s about a previous owner, Israel Brice’s, prize-winning Longwools. They continued to do research and found that his headstone is still located in a local cemetery. After he passed away, his son Edward took over Risby and the paper trail of Risby’s history went cold. Recently at an ag show, someone came up to them and introduced them as descendants of the Brice’s and were glad that Longwools were back at Risby. In 1891, a man by the name of Mr. Nelson bought the Risby house and brought his flock of Longwools with him. This is the second documented time Lincolns were at Risby, and Mr. Nelson is an ancestor of Rosemary, who we visited on Tuesday! At this time, there wouldn’t have been any other sheep in Lincolnshire. They were incredibly profitable due to their heavy fleece and good yield. At that time, you were paid based on the weight. There was also huge profit at the turn of the century from exporting, especially to Argentina. In 1912 another man by the name of Harry Abraham who lived nearby, brought another flock to Risby. This was the third recorded flock. The Abraham flock dispersed by the 1940’s and that was the last record of Longwools at Risby until the Fairburns in 2004. The history of Lincolns at Risby Grange is amazing to me, and it is no wonder their sheep are so beautiful; this is where they were meant to live!
The bottom of the dress is the individual locks and the top is crocheted with beading. It is so gorgeous and much lighter weight than I was expecting. There's even a hidden black curl sewed onto the dress as well! :D Everyone kept asking me if I would do something similar. It would certainly be more difficult seeing as all my Lincolns are natural colored, and I'm not sure this dress could ever be replicated!
I cannot thank the Fairburns and all of the other breeders for the generosity and hospitality throughout the week. I truly felt at home in this foreign country and cannot wait to return again soon!