The History of the Society

The first Cotswold Sheep Society was formed in 1892. Their first flock book contained the histories of 22 flocks, which had owned 12,639 ewes between them. The oldest of these flocks had been established prior to 1790, several dated back to the late 1790’s and most had been established by the mid 1800’s. The Society was active for many years, but as the numbers of Cotswold sheep slowly declined, the Society became less active and finally lapsed in the mid 1920’s.

In 1966 a small group of breeders gathered at the home of Mr. William Garne, in Aldsworth, Gloucestershire, to discuss the reformation of the Society. Mr Garne, who was 85 years old at this meeting was a living link to the original Society, whose formation he remembered. His family had bred Cotswold sheep at Aldsworth for at least 200 years. Mrs O.H. Colburn was also a member of the Garne family and had a small flock of Cotswolds at Crickley Barrow near Northleach. The other large flock at this time belonged to the Dowager Lady Vestey. She took an active interest in her sheep which she was very careful to ensure remained pure.

A new Society was formed at the Aldsworth meeting, with Col. E.G.D. Kennedy as chairman. Col. Kennedy had been co-director of ‘British Livestock Exports’ with Mr. W Garne since before the 1939-45 war, and was interested in Cotswolds in Canada, Australia and Germany. He was also involved in exporting Cotswold rams to Iran. Rodney Stanford agreed to be the first secretary of the new Society.

At first individual sheep records were kept on the farms, but in 1974 the Rare Breeds Survival Trust published its first Combined Flock Book which included Cotswold sheep. The R.B.S.T. maintained the registery on behalf of the Society until 1987 when the Cotswold Sheep Society took on running their own registry and published “Flock Book 1”, which was the first to be produced by the Cotswold Sheep Society since its reformation in 1966.

The Flock Book at that time contained 110 members, quite a few of whom remain members today.