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The Blacksmith Story

This story was told to me at this year’s Heckington Show. It’s a wonderful story. I hope my memory has done the story justice.

William The Conqueror decided to find who was the best craftsman in the whole of England. To achieve this, he decided on a competition and all the craftsmen in the land were challenged to produce their best work and present it to the King.

The day of the competition the best craftsmen arrived at the castle to present their wares. The King was amazed by the craftsmanship on display and struggled to decide on the best. In the end he chose the tailor who had made the King a set of the finest clothes. The clothes were a perfect fit, beautifully decorated and were made of the finest cloth and sewn with the finest thread.

The tailor was asked to join the King at the top table and eat the best food you could imagine.

The blacksmith who made the tools that had made the finest cloth was very annoyed, so he went on strike because after all it was the Blacksmiths who made the tools for all the craftsmen, so being the most important.

This was OK until the King decided that he wanted another set of clothes made of the finest cloth and beautifully embroidered. The tailor accepted the commission and set about his work with glee only to find his needles/tools were blunt and broken and he couldn’t produce a set of the finest clothes. Eventually he had to tell the King of his problem.

The King called all the courtiers together and discussed how to solve this problem. They decided the best solution was to have another competition.

Again the craftsmen arrived with their best work for the King and as you can imagine the Blacksmith won and he sat at the top table with the King.

The tailor was devastated by this and as the meal continued the tailor crept under the top table and set about modifying the dress of the Blacksmith. The meal finished the speeches began and eventually it was the turn of the Blacksmith. He stood up and all he was left with was an apron with tassels. The King in his amazement asked the Blacksmith why he was dressed so. The Blacksmith not wanting to admit his predicament said that the apron and tassels were used to sweep the top of his anvil.

It is believed that maybe this is the start of all master craftsmen wearing aprons with tassels that can be seen in the Mason’s dress.

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Blacksmith hammering an anvil and creating sparks
Blacksmithing at Chain Bridge Forge