Cornelia James spent the last five decades of the 20th century occupying premises which had been, at different times, a laundry, a builder’s yard and, allegedly, in the days before trains were available to bring fresh milk to the city, a dairy complete with cows.
In 2010 we moved to our present premises, which is on a farm just outside the village of Ripe in East Sussex, England.
When we first came here we were a tiny business and we occupied just one building, which was known as ‘The Old Cattle Stall’ and which still had the rings to which livestock had been tethered (our machinists roam free). We kept our fabrics in a disused shipping container in the barn next door. When BBC Radio 4 came down to do a feature on ‘the Royal Glovemaker’ we had to get Dilly Barlow, the presenter, to promise not to tell the listening world that the Queen’s gloves were being cut in a barn on a farm in a muddy part of the kingdom.
Fast forward 10 years and we are still ‘on the farm’ but we now occupy five times as much space with rooms dedicated to cutting, machining, despatch and storage and an office which is accommodated in a tiny building which, in the old days, housed the pump that brought water up from an underground water course.
We look out over a landscape that is quintessentially English. Hedgerows, fields full of sheep and, in the background the looming presence of the hills of the South Downs. It is a very English situation in which we have adapted, adopted, adjusted and plain old cobbled together facilities to create a very efficient environment for the making of gloves.