Peter and Jean Younger, the founders of this family business, were both creative people who shared a love of traditional country crafts. Peter enjoyed silversmithing in his spare time while Jean was a keen artist with a love of the natural world. In the early 1970s they organised a series of one-day craft markets at local town halls with the whole family helping to set up the stands, organise tickets and man the refreshments.
The original 1970s logo.
Their young children Julie and Robin have early memories of getting in a hire van packed with trestle tables and chocolate eclairs, setting out from home at 5am! The success of these early events spurred Peter and Jean on to set up Living Crafts.
The 1980s blacksmith logo representing a traditional British craft, once seen in every village.
Large-scale craft events were unheard of at that time and the first Living Crafts show took place at Hatfield House in 1974, showcasing local craftspeople selling and demonstrating their craft. With just thirty-five exhibitors in the first year, Living Crafts continued to grow and in the tenth year included Native American jewellery makers who flew in for the event and demonstrations by trumpet makers and even cricket ball makers, a skill now lost in this country.
By the time of the 30th Anniversary show in 2004, opened by Esther Rantzen, Living Crafts had flourished into one of the largest consumer craft events in Europe, welcoming five hundred designer-makers from across the UK and reflected the enormous popularity of craft. Julie and Robin had joined the team and helped Living Crafts to become a beacon for high-quality original, contemporary craft. Living Crafts for Christmas was launched in 2003 against the majestic setting of Blenheim Palace and more recently Living Crafts have organised the Blenheim Palace Christmas Market with a footfall of nearly 200,000 people.
In 2009, Living Crafts Hatfield Park moved to a larger site on the Elizabeth Oak Showground, named after the oak tree that stood on the site and where Elizabeth I was told she was to become Queen of England. The shows were now known for celebrating design and originality in a lively creative atmosphere with entertainment, masterclasses, workshops and spectacular craft demonstrations.
As Monty Don, who opened the 40th anniversary show enthused, ”Crafts are an essential part of a rich life, and Living Crafts celebrates this gloriously”.
As demand for quality British made craft products increases and to support our talented exhibitors during the pandemic, in 2020 we launched Living Crafts Online Directory, a virtual craft fair featuring a selection of our contemporary designer-makers. Craft lovers can now buy exciting, high-quality products quickly and easily online as well as attend our events. And with social media's growing impact on all of our lives we are able to use our platforms as a voice for our ever-growing network of designer-makers, helping craftspeople to link with the general public, creating a creative community for imaginative thinkers and craft lovers.
Living Crafts have been pioneering British Craft for nearly 50 years, supporting craftmanship and encouraging the public to appreciate craft skills and buy fine craft products. If you are a talented designer-maker and want to be involved with our online shop and events program find out more here.
Living Crafts has hosted four generations of British 'broom squires' or besom makers.
Which brings us to 2022. Over recent years we have seen a huge upsurge of craftspeople and craft lovers within the UK and during the recent lockdowns, many people found new ways to explore their creativity. Living Crafts in 2021 saw an explosion of craft enthusiasts signing up to hone their skills at our many workshops.
We are delighted that British craft is once again enjoying a popular renaissance and look forward to seeing you again this year.