At this time of year Belper North Mill extends its opening times for the spring and summer season. We are now open from Wednesdays through to Sundays, and all Bank Holiday Mondays.
Stately homes and National Trust properties also throw wide their doors to visitors. If you visit Chatsworth or Haddon Hall in Derbyshire, you will notice that some of the chairs have strange looking dried plants carefully placed on the seats! These are teasels. They are used as a gentle way of asking people not to sit on delicate old furniture. Not so gentle if you inadvertently sit on one in summer clothes, though I have known people in winter coats walk away from the chair, unaware that they have them attached!
Teasels were originally grown for use in textile production.The spiky seed heads of Fullers teasels were used to raise the nap on wool and cloth, teasing out the fibres. They were set into frames like this one at the North Mill.By the 20th century metal tools were used,which didn't wear out in the same way as the natural teasel seed heads, but could damage the cloth. Teasels are still popular with some weavers.