A visit to the Sheep Drive on London Bridge

Sheep looking at camera

Off to the Sheep Drive

A sunny September Saturday, and it’s off to the Sheep Drive at London Bridge for me.

The event, on London Bridge in the City of London, takes place every year to raise money for the Lord Mayor’s Charity. As Freemen of the City, Woolmen (members of The Worshipful Company of Woolmen) were exempt from tolls for driving livestock over the bridge. Now they exercise this centuries old right each year by offering Freemen the chance to drive the sheep with them.

It truly was a glorious day and everyone seemed happy – even the sheep!

Laughing sheep at the London Sheep Drive

And who was there to start off the whole event? None other than Mary Berry, who I spotted later browsing the stalls at the accompanying Wool Fair…

Mary Berry and a Guildman opening the Wool Fair in London Bridge

And they’re off… The sheep were driven in groups of about 10 at a time from one end of the bridge to the other for the whole day, with lots of people turning up in fancy dress to drive them. Lots of shepherds and shepherdesses, and I even spotted a fox!

Sheep being driven on London Bridge

All the fun of the Wool Fair

Just round the corner from the Sheep Drive was the Wool Fair. A street full of stalls in the shadow of the iconic London landmark The Monument. Such a variety of goods on display… from fleeces to  knitwear, from spun yarn, to woven fabric, and much more. There were even slug pellets made of waste wool – ingenious!

And of course, there were sheep here too… These little sheep come from Ascog Wool. The lovely natural undyed yarn itself is produced from sheep on the Hebridean island of Bute.

Ascog Wool's stall at the Wool Fair in London with knitted sheep

Fleeces and unspun wool were in evidence too…

Fleece over a chair and a sack of wool, with autumn leaves

Here’s Anna Holzer-Mountifield of Spinspired. She was busy all day spinning, with her intricate shawl designs on show behind her. (Spot another sheep here too!)

Spinspired shawls and lady spinning yarn

Lots of the stalls were so colourful and tempting. I had to use all my willpower not to break the bank!

Colourful wool stall at the Wool Fair at Monument in London

However, when I came across the HeyJay Yarn stall, I just couldn’t resist. Well, look at all the gorgeous hanks of wool here. I chose a beautiful pink-hued tweedy 4ply. Hopefully a pair of socks will be on the way soon, though there are already a lot of projects on my needles, which you can read about here!

Hanks of colourful HeyJay yarn on a stall with the pink-haired owner behind them

It wasn’t just yarn at the fair either. I loved these vintage-inspired brooches from Marilyn’s Creative Threads. Marilyn uses hand embroidery, and vintage fabrics and lace to create this fantastic jewellery.

vintage woolen felt brooches from Marilyn's Creative Threads

In case you want a peek at what came home from the fair with me – here’s the wool I snapped up from HeyJay.

Hank of pink tweed wool from HeyJay

And finally, I couldn’t resist bringing a sheep home with me, and luckily it doesn’t seem too bothered about the foxes!

Sheep keyring and fox cruet in front of pot of violets