The story of the "Royal Sussex Trug"
The "Royal Sussex Trug" basket is a staple of traditional English gardening scenes. He is known all over the world.
The origins of the "Royal Sussex Trug"
In the 1820s , shortly before Queen Victoria acceded to the throne of England, Thomas Smith, a resident of Sussex, invented the "Sussex Trug" : a light basket, made of chestnut and willow wood, inspired by an old model, the ancient "trog".
The "trog" was a kind of container in the shape of a boat, made of solid timber, which the Anglo-Saxons used as an instrument for measuring cereals, milk... There were different sizes , depending on the type of measurements to be performed. This container was very heavy.
At the time when Thomas Smith manufactured his Trugs, there was a real market for this type of basket on farms and in gardens throughout England.
However, it was not until 1851, at the Universal Exhibition in London in which Thomas Smith took part with his Trugs, that Queen Victoria, lingering on his stand, was so impressed by his products that she passed same order of several items, with a view to offering them as gifts to members of the royal family.
Thomas Smith becomes "official supplier to the Court" and his Trugs take the name of "Royal Sussex Trugs".
In 1855, on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition of Industry and Fine Arts, in Paris, Thomas Smith was rewarded with a silver medal and a prize, signed by the hand of Napoleon III.
The company changed hands several times, before being bought out in 1989 by Robin and Peter Tuppen , Anna Piper and Frank Odell. Robin and his wife Sue now run it, supplying Trugs worldwide.
In 1997, Robin Tuppen gave a demonstration of the manufacture of his Trugs at the gardening fair in Courson, Ile-de-France. There he receives a "silver ribbon". Then, after a more thorough demonstration of its manufacture and an extensive exhibition of its Trugs, it won the "golden ribbon", in the spring of 1998 and 1999.
"Royal Sussex Trugs" are still handmade in Sussex.
The handles and edges of the basket are made of chestnut wood. The chestnut trunks are split several times by hand along their entire length using an axe.
Then a craftsman, sitting astride an adapted saddle, planes one side with a knife, so that the handle and the edge become smooth and pleasant to the touch. The handle and rim are then immersed in a steam bath to give them flexibility, before they are finally bent on a bender, then nailed together to produce the frame of the basket.
Light split willow slats, carefully formed by hand, are then fixed with strong copper nails. And finally we finish the basket by adding the bases, fixed by means of broad-headed spikes, also in copper.
Sussex trugs are very light and durable, some are still in use after 100 years.
There are, of course, copies, but there is only one real and authentic Trug: the "Royal Sussex Trug" . A stamp of authenticity is present under the base of the trugs.
We offer two models on the eshop: the garden basket and the flower basket .