Sussex Garden Trugs

We are especially delighted to offer these very special traditional Sussex Garden Trugs.
Hand made by the master trug maker John Carnell.

Our Sussex Trugs

John Carnell at work

Why our Sussex Garden Trugs are something very special.

John is the last of the Sussex trug makers to make his trugs entirely by hand.
So when John finally lays down his tools it really will be an end of an era.

We’re especially delighted to offer these very special and beautiful English products.
Our Sussex Garden Trugs are completely hand crafted in Sussex by master trug maker John Carnell.

For over forty years John has been making Sussex Trugs using traditional methods. Others now use bandsaws to cut the willow panels whereas notably John still cleaves them by hand using a froe.

Now in his 80s, John is the last of the Sussex trug makers to make his trugs entirely by hand. So when John finally lays down his tools it really will be an end of an era, that’s why we believe these trugs are really something very special indeed.
Update: We believe these may be the last trugs available by John so sadly when they are gone they are gone!

Quintessentially English

Quintessentially English, a traditional Sussex Trug conjures up a nostalgic and somewhat romantic image, it’s the perfect way to harvest or display summer’s bounty, from picking flowers from the garden to gathering your delicious fruit and vegetables.

Whatever you use your trug for we’re sure you will enjoy it’s quality and the unique character that seems to come with each one.

Our Sussex Trugs are available in sizes 1 to 6.  From 8×6″ through to the substantial 21×12″, each trug has the approximate measurement details listed on the product page.

How long does a trug last?

This very much depends on how a trug is treated of course. It’s fine to leave a trug outside on the odd occasion but it should always be allowed to dry out naturally in the shed, garage, summerhouse etc.

Treated with care a trug can last from 10 to 20 years and if you really look after it you may find it to last 50 plus years!

See Our Range of Sussex Trugs

The making of a Sussex Trug

The panels for the trugs are cleaved out of white willow and the chestnut used for the handles and frames are produced the same way. These are shaped with a drawknife on a workhorse. The chestnut has to be steamed and formed into handles and frames of varying sizes. The seasoning period for the chestnut is about six months so the cleaving is done whilst the wood is still green. The willow panels are soaked in water so they can be shaped to fit the frames as the trugs are assembled.

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Short history of the Sussex Trug

The history of the trug goes back hundreds of years. Almost certainly the trug would have started in the charcoal industry when charcoal was used in the smelting of iron.
The trugs would have been used to earth up the clamps of charcoal and a round basket without the handle like a swill or spalk basket would have been used. Once the charcoal was prepared the baskets were then used to feed the smelting furnaces.

Baskets of this type could have been produced on site as they would have been manufactured from green wood, this being done while the charcoal was forming.

Coppice chestnut was used for charcoal and the charcoal was used to smelt iron.
The smelting process required an abundance of water and where there is water there is bound to be willow, so the ingredients were all to hand for making these baskets.

A handle would have been added as further uses were found for the trug on small holdings and farms for stock feeding and vegetable collection.

The move of the trug to garden work was due to Queen Victoria ordering some at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park from Thomas Smith of Herstmonceux.
On completion of the order Thomas Smith took the trugs to London in a hand cart.

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