Development and History of English Stick Making
The craft of cutting a walking stick no doubt stretches back through time to when man first walked on two legs. At first simple tools, they would quickly have come to be carved and decorated. The known history of walking sticks however, begins much later in mid fifteenth century Europe when sticks have been found ornately carved with historical events. The term 'cane' was introduced in Britain during the reign of King Henry VIII to refer to sticks made of imported exotic woods. Today the word continues to refer to the use of exotic woods as well as to mean a stick with a simple taper and without a curved handle.
Walking sticks have been made in numerous styles and from a wide range of woods including ash, chestnut, cherry, hazel, oak, orange, snakewood and rattan. The increase in leisure time and heightened appreciation of nature that has taken hold in recent years, has led to an ever growing demand for walking sticks. The crafts involved in their creation and embelishment are enjoying a revival leading to the formation of The British Stickmakers Guild in 1984.
Walking sticks have been made in the Stroud Valleys for over 150 years. At the turn of the century more sticks were manufactured here than in the rest of the world put together.