Archangel mats appear a number of times in the overseers’ vouchers for Uttoxeter prompting us to ask what they were and what they were used for.
Archangel mats (sometimes referred to as Russian or bass mats in the vouchers) were produced in substantial numbers and exported through the port of Archangel averaging 905,000 pieces annually in the period 1837–1842. The mats, made from sedge and flags (aquatic plants with long narrow leaves), were durable and close textured. They had several uses including for packing around household furniture when moving and for covering trunks and cases. They were supplied to Uttoxeter’s brickyard where they may have been used to protect the clay bricks whilst they were being dried out before firing. They were also supplied to the workhouse garden where they would have been used to protect fruit trees and to cover cold frames and cloches to protect young and tender plants from frost and bright sunlight early in the growing season. Aquatias noted that, ‘Experienced growers only spread the mats when the bell-glasses turn white with frost, and take them away as soon as the glass is thawed. To save the trouble of shading with mats, certain growers prefer shading with limewash’.
Gardener and nurseryman William Rogers (see separate entry) supplied mats on three occasions between 1824 and 1834. On the last occasion ‘24 large Russia mats’ were supplied at a cost of £1 18s 0d. Rogers appears to have been making a decent profit on this transaction as in the early 1840s Archangel mats were being sold on the London market at £3 10s per 100 including duty at five per cent. Two years earlier Porter and Keates had supplied two dozen Archangel mats for £1 13s 0d.
P. Aquatias, Intensive Culture of Vegetables on the French System (1913. Carlisle, Massachusetts: Applewood Books, 2009)
Graham Brooks, ‘Industrial History of Cumbria, brick-making’,
www.cumbria-industries.org.uk/a-z-of-industries/brick-making/ accessed 10/01/18
J. R. McCulloch, A Dictionary, Practical, Theoretical and Historical of Commerce and Navigation (London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1844)
SRO, D3891/6/32/4/11, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 31 Mar 1826
SRO, D3891/6/32/18/4, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 4 Aug 1824
SRO, D3891/6/39/5/15, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 31 March 1832
SRO, D3891/6/40/10/9, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 31 Jan 1834
The Tradesman or Commercial Magazine, vol.11 (July–December 1813) (London: Sherwood, Neely and Jones, 1813)
This is a work in progress, subject to change as new research is conducted.