One of only four swill basket makers in the entire world, Lorna Singleton keeps alive an ancient Lake District tradition.

Singleton uses long-established methods to create beautiful hand-woven baskets for the modern day. ‘Swilling’ was popular in 19th-century Cumbria; in this instance it is not a term to do with drinking or pigs but refers to an ancient craft practised in England – oak basket making.

Swilled baskets can be seen in the illustrations of Beatrix Potter and were common until after the Second World War, when plastics became popular.

In Singleton’s work, craft and conservation work together. She cuts and prepares the wood by hand, managing and restoring coppice woodland in a responsible and renewable way, seeing the whole process from tree to finished product.

The exhibition shines a spotlight on the history of swilling while displaying Singleton’s work as an example of someone keeping this traditional craft alive. It brings together some of Lorna’s best pieces along with historic tools and a chance for visitors to try weaving themselves.

Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry

Abbot Hall, Kirkland, Kendal, Cumbria, LA9 5AL

01539 722464


Opening times

March - October
Mon - Sat: 10.30am - 5pm

November - February
Mon - Sat: 10.30am - 4pm

50% off entry with National Art Pass

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