Whether it's a good old-fashioned basket for an Easter egg hunt or a trip to your local food market, check out these traditional British weavers.

Baskets woven in Africa and South America are beautiful, distinctive and precious but happily their creation is not the preserve of far-flung indigenous peoples. We have plenty of talented weavers on our shores and over 200 words for basket. Since 1975, there has even been an organisation devoted to the pretty wicker vessel.

Run by volunteers, The Basketmakers’ Association promotes basketry and its related crafts. You can visit their impressive website for information about courses and events and details of makers up and down the UK. Look them up and you’ll see that our affection for the traditional basket never withers.

Perhaps it is because of their sheer endurance. A recent article in The New York Times says: ‘Baskets are among the most ancient and geographically pervasive objects humankind has ever fashioned from nature – and the only craft that has proved insusceptible to mechanization.’

So, just in time for your Easter Egg Hunt, we have handpicked some of our favourite British basket weavers.

Annemarie O’Sullivan

This master craftsperson, renowned the world over, operates with a small team in a studio in Sussex. She grows and harvests local materials to weave into exquisitely high-end baskets, lights and much more. The former competitive swimmer, who grew up in Ireland, says: ‘When I made a willow basket – that very first evening – I went to bed and was dreaming of the willow, moving in arches and tight turns. It reminded me of how I feel when I swim, which is the same kind of movement. It’s a lovely fluid feeling, one I experience deep in my body.’ If you’re in the mood to splash out, her Willow Seedlip Basket is the Easter basket of dreams. Explore her work here.

Norfolk Basket Company

Now, these guys grow their willow and craft their baskets in the Dordogne region in France – but they are brilliant British makers and hence deserve a place on our list. Adrian Charlton has been making baskets professionally since 1985, having had his interest sparked by an old basket maker at a market in Norfolk. Ruth became his apprentice in 1997 and later his wife. Together, with 50 years of combined experience, they now cultivate 20 varieties of willow, run courses and make baskets at their glorious home in south-west France. Their wares are available to view on their website and order over email. Explore more here.

JW Taylor & Son

It was in 1867 that JW Taylor started making baskets in Ulleskelf in North Yorkshire. Today his great-grandson continues, aged 76, to use the same traditional methods that he did to create almost anything you can think of that can be made out of willow or cane. He was recently commissioned to make a bespoke hamper for a vintage car. Imagine taking on an Easter Egg hunt with their wicker shopping trolley in tow. Now, that would be stylish. Explore more here.

Somerset Willow

Basketry seems to have a habit of running in families. At Somerset Willow, they have been weaving log baskets, picnic hampers and willow furniture for four generations. They say: ‘Little did basket maker Edward Hill know that an order to supply 900 pigeon baskets would provide the foundations for a business that has thrived under the stewardship of his family since 1959.’ Incidentally, they were the first company in the UK to start manufacturing coffins made out of willow and are also among the leading makers of hot air balloon baskets in the world. For the less lofty purposes of a family Easter Egg hunt, we particularly like their English Round Shopping Basket. Explore more here.

Jenny Crisp

Jenny Crisp credits David Drew, the expert basket maker and willow grower who taught her his craft, with the way of life she now enjoys. She and her daughter Issy came together in 2018 to forge a basket-making partnership and have since made structures for the Chelsea Flower Show and lampshades for Sandringham. They say: ‘We are a mother-daughter partnership with a shared passion for combining traditional basket making and willow growing with innovative and unique design.’ Their pretty website has details of their exhibitions, the courses they offer, Jenny’s book on Willow and the wares they sell. Their Lunch Bag is deeply covetable and looks like it would carry just the right number of eggs. Explore more here.

By Becky Ladenburg
April 2022

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Becky Ladenburg

Features Editor

As the GWG's features editor, Becky has her discerning finger on the cultural pulse. She's also our go-to expert on the property market.