Thomas Whitty began making Axminster method carpets in 1755. These original Axminster Carpets™ could be found in Chatsworth House and Brighton Pavilion as well as being bought by King George III and Queen Charlotte, who visited the factory.
182 years later a carpet manufacturer called Harry Dutfield was on a train where he met a vicar from the West Country who told him that carpets had not been made in Axminster for a while due to a disastrous fire that had destroyed the factory. The germ of an idea was born and in 1937 the decision was taken to re-launch carpet manufacturing in the town of Axminster.
This was the renaissance of ‘Axminsters from Axminster’. Axminster Carpets™ continues the proud tradition of making the finest carpets in the world. Carpets from Axminster can be found in royal residences, in some of the finest hotels in the world, in train carriages, on the aircraft of major global airlines and in thousands of discerning homes up and down the country.
To celebrate 250 years of carpet weaving in Axminster a commemorative rug was produced. Re-enacting history the carpet was paraded by the weavers of Axminster Carpets through the town to the Minster Church where it was blessed by the Bishop of Exeter and then presented to the Earl of Devon, who was representing the Queen. It is now in Clarence House, the home of HRH the Prince of Wales.
The Axminster Weave
What makes an Axminster from Axminster Carpets™ different to one from other manufacturers of Axminster weaves?
The importance of the backing and yarn
It’s in the way we weave our Axminsters and the raw materials we use. The most important difference is our specialist backing which allows us to use incredibly high-quality yarns. Our backing is made from jute and cotton that are woven together in straight lines to leave little holes for the carpet yarn to be woven through. This ensures that the carpet itself is woven in lines that are straight and true.
The quality of a woven carpet is affected by the number of holes per square inch, known as the “pitch” of the carpet, and the way the holes are arranged, either as perfect squares or rectangles. The size of these holes dictates the thickness of the thread to be used. A thicker yarn produces a more intense texture underfoot.
The best carpet “pitch” in the world
At Axminster we make our carpets using a range of pitches. Our highest domestic pitch is an 8 x 10 used for our super luxury Royal Axminster collection. This means the backing has 8 columns across and 10 rows down per square inch, with a staggering 80 tiny holes per square inch to weave the yarn through.
Why the yarn can affect the pitch
The type of yarn makes a difference to the feel of the carpet. The very fine yarns used in our Royal Axminsters such as Royal Clovelly and Royal Dartmouth give a very soft feel to the carpet and depict detail very clearly in the weave, just as your television does if you have a high definition screen. A more chunky yarn, such as that used for our Dartmoor and Exmoor weaves, will allow you to sink your toes into the carpet, which will give under foot when you walk on it.
How pitch affects the type of design
Our most popular pitch for a designed carpet is our unique 8 x 8 pitch, which has 64 tiny holes per square inch. Because it is a perfect square, the designs can include perfect circles or squares where all the lines are the same thickness and diagonal lines that flow smoothly and are not fractured. This kind of precision is impossible with a rectangular pitch like the 7 x 9 used by most other manufacturers.