While the heritage of the English shepherd hut can be traced to as early as the 16th century, the architectural type rose in popularity during the 19th and 20th centuries. This increase in interest was due, in part, to author Thomas Hardy’s 1874 literary success, Far from the Madding Crowd. Hardy’s tale wove the story of the entanglements of young shepherd, Gabriel, and his paramour, Bathsheba, which stoked interest in popular cultural to the pastoral existence and, accordingly, the early shepherd hut.

Originally conceived as a humble, yet necessary, mobile shelter for shepherds as they cared for their grazing flocks, the huts were especially important during the lambing season when special care for tender lambs might require additional measures to ensure their safety. Inside were the rudimentary components for daily needs, such as a simple bed, a wood stove for both warmth and cooking, along with special tools and medicines. In addition, huts housed crates specially designed to ensure overnight safety and comfort for the delicate lambs and to allow the shepherd to keep a watchful eye.

While the use of these huts within an agrarian context reached its pinnacle in the 19th century, the English shepherd hut has enjoyed a recent resurgence in popularity. This renaissance, however, is of a repurposed hut in response to modern society. As reported by The London Times in September 2014, for example, rustic garden huts are the latest trend, and the ultimate garden accessory.

One of the main appeals of the modern English shepherd hut as a retreat is its surprising ability to reconnect us to the land and slow our pace. Inside these petite personal retreats, many experience moments of increased contentment, creativity, and connection with loved ones.

If you are considering all the possibilities of an English shepherd hut in the transformation of your lifestyle and want to learn more about hut heritage and history, below are several links to additional resources to encourage your exploration. If these resources leave you increasingly inspired, feel free to contact us with any questions or to request our complimentary Brochure and Design Kit. We are always available to help you discover how a shepherd hut might fit into your future.

“Historic Shepherd Huts”
This charming short video features some wonderful people who are passionate about the rescue and restoration of late 19th and early 20th century English shepherd huts. Alongside their story is some fantastic historical footage and additional explanations as to how these huts functioned and why the Great War was so detrimental to the tradition.

Shepherds’ Huts & Living Vans
David Morris’ delightful book, Shepherds’ Huts & Living Vans, offers a quite comprehensive historical reference along with a great compendium of photos (Amberley, 2013).

“Far From The Madding Crowd”
Fox Searchlight Pictures 2015 release of David Vinterberg’s adaption of Hardy’s “Far from the Madding Crowd.” Starring Carey Mulligan, as Bathsheba, and Matthias Schoenaerts, as the shepherd Gabriel, the film is a beautifully rendered vision of Victorian England, featuring an English shepherd hut!

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Blackdown® Shepherd Huts North America in Dexter, Michigan, creating high quality handcrafted traditional bespoke & custom made shepherds huts.

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