The History of Woods
The Woods' family name has been synonymous with the finest linen and luxury cotton since 1733. Today, Woods is celebrated as one of the finest, most comprehensive linen shops in Europe. If you can't find it at Woods, you probably can't find it anywhere!
Directed by B.I.I.D. member and respected interior designer William Woods, grandson of the founder, the shop is still run on enviable family business values. Our shop is a treasure trove of goods from all over the world, providing a choice and diversity rarely found under one roof. Respected for quality and attention to detail, Woods Fine Linens operates its own interior design workshops, with a team of highly skilled craftspeople making curtains and furnishings to the highest possible standard.
Generations of satisfied customers, including royalty, enjoy the service provided by Woods' knowledgeable and friendly staff dedicated to advising customers and discovering the unusual. Put simply, our passions are quality, design and customer service.
Woods Fine Linens moved into Yorkshire in the early 19th century when George Woods managed the local flax mill in Knaresborough. He wove fine linen, for which the area justly became famous. In 1895, his son, William Ernest Woods was inspired to open his first linen shop. William's son, also George, took over the running of the business in 1940. And in 1965, at the tender age of 17 the young William Woods inherited the company when his parents were tragically killed.
In the early days, the shop supplied the town's major hotels with fine quality linens and towels. Standards were high and nothing would be sold unless it was the best, and sure to give good service. The shop's reputation spread across Britain and Woods gained royal patronage.
Today, the shop offers its customers a rare shopping experience. Inside is a visual feast with a vast array of goods sourced from around the globe. We also have a well established and comprehensive interior design department specialising in the design and decoration of country homes. We uphold the traditional values of good service, high quality and attention to detail.
A visit to our shop is a unique experience - the Edwardian lift takes customers between floors and purchases are still wrapped in brown paper and string, and carried out to your car.
At Woods, the best of tradition is combined with a strong sense of design. Expert Interior Designer, Sarah Woods, is the next generation who will move the company forward well into the 21st century. We are happy now to be offering the convenience of online shopping with a selection of our most popular linens. Here, you can buy with the knowledge that we are completely dedicated to your total satisfaction.
We hope you enjoy browsing through our website. If you have any queries or comments please contact us.
The History of our Family and it's Heritage
William Woods begins his career as a mercer in Laugharne, South Wales, later home of celebrated poet and writer Dylan Thomas. This is during the reign of King George II and a period of great upheaval in the textile industry. Cloth production is moving from the home to the factory and artisans are seeking ways to increase productivity. Silk, wool, fustian and linen are being overtaken by cotton, and weaving and spinning technologies are becoming mechanised.
William’s trade is passed down to his son, Thomas Woods. Under the reign of King George III, the British Agricultural Revolution has reached its peak and the Industrial Revolution is in full flow, fuelled by unprecedented growth in the rural population. Cotton and wool mills, powered by water then by steam, are starting to become a common sight, particularly in the North of England.
Having worked as a travelling salesman based in Bristol, aided by recent developments in the infrastructure of canals and railways, Thomas’s son George moves to Yorkshire to work for Knaresborough’s famous Castle Mill.
George becomes manager of Castle Mill.
George dies leaving two sons, William Ernest Woods and George Thomas Woods. William founds the family’s first linen shop in Prince’s Street, Harrogate, cementing the Woods’ reputation as purveyors of the finest luxury linens and consolidating their rich heritage. This legacy lives on through both World Wars and they remain true to their traditional values even in the face of globalisation, and as synthetic fibres and cheap manufacturing methods become ever more commonplace.
Woods moves to its present location on Prince Albert Row, Station Parade, Harrogate.
Upon William’s death, one of his two sons, George Appleby Woods, takes over the family business.
James Lambert goes off to serve in the Eighth Army in the Second World War and fights at El Alamein in 1942.
George joins the Army leaving the business in the hands of his brother the eminent Lawyer Ernest Woods.
The war is over, James Lambert and George return from the war, George reaching the rank of Major.
Tom Bryant completes 50 years with Woods.
George is tragically killed in a car accident with his wife Thalia on the way to visit one of the company’s suppliers.
George’s son, also named William Ernest Woods, relinquishes his pursuit of a career in law to take over the family business aged just 17. He is mentored by his uncle Ernest and joined by a group of loyal staff, including James Lambert and Stanley Newbould.
William goes to Northern Ireland to work for a firm of Spinners, Weavers, Bleachers and Dyers gaining valuble experience and knowledge.
William goes on to work in the interiors department of Heal & Son (now Heal’s) in London.
Stanley Newbould passes away after working at Woods for 52 years
Following a formal course of interior design training, William returns to Harrogate from London. In the years that follow he travels to the Far East, India, America and Europe to learn about linen in all its guises and create links with designers and manufacturers.
William develops the company’s interior design service and establishes new in-house workshops.
James Lambert passes away after completing 64 years with the firm.
William becomes a member of the British Institute of Interior Design.
William marries Jennifer and has two children, Sarah and Jonathan.
William purchases the adjoining shop to accommodate the growing business.
Wood's celebrate their Centenary
Having studied at one of the most highly regarded interior design colleges in London and been headhunted by one of London's leading interior design companies, William’s daughter, Sarah Thalia Woods (BA Hons), starts working for Woods as Interior Design Director. Her eye for detail, maturity and professionalism soon earn her a loyal client list and a reputation that belies her age.
Woods is named best specialist shop in the UK in Period Living magazine's Best of British Awards.
William Woods Interior Design named amongst Britain’s top 20 interior designers by the Telegraph.
William’s son Jonathan starts working for Woods, following in the footsteps of his father, having travelled extensively and lived in the Far East for three years before settling into the family business. He brings a fresh perspective to the company gained though his years abroad and his strong proficiency in IT. A year later, the new website is launched, reflecting the company’s sensitivity to its customers’ evolving needs in today’s changing marketplace.
To this day, Woods retains the traditional values that helped make the company a success all those years ago. Put simply, our priorities are quality, design and customer service – and no matter what else might happen in the world, these pursuits will always remain the same.