A lucky visit!
We were joined on a sunny day in July by the Cambridge Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers for a private tour of the House and garden. Our trustee Sara shared her wonderful collection of dyed samples and the visitors declared themselves to have “benefitted from the passion for the building, knowledge and expertise” of our volunteer guides.
In turn, we benefitted from them identifying a strange plant in the garden. A whorl of leaves appeared last year which we left to see what new kind of plant would develop. They quickly identified it as Dyer’s Weld also known as dyer’s weed, yellow weed, dyer’s rocket, woold or weld.
It is much loved and visited by bees and other insects. The leaves can be used both fresh or dried but the fresh leaves produce a much brighter yellow colour than the dried. It is a huge plant and the seed either blew into the garden or arrived via a bird.
It has quite a history. In Roman times the robes of Vestal Virgins, priestesses appointed to the service of Vesta, virgin goddess of Rome’s sacred hearth and its flame, were dyed yellow with weld.
Nearer to home when over-dyed with woad, it produces Lincoln Green, the colour reputedly used to dye the clothes of the legendary Robin Hood and his band of merry men in the 13th century!
If you belong to a group who would like to visit but cannot join us for the standard Open Days we will happily arrange to open up at a time to suit you – read more details here.