Our story begins in the late 1960s with Belfast man John England, who together with Marion Saunders, established a textile design studio.
Later Marion’s sons, Richard and Ryan Saunders became entwined in the industry, with a shared dream to breathe life back into the local craft. Their aim was to expand a traditional textile house that married the history of Irish weaving with the demands of global market requirements.
Stoker Mills are simply passionate about producing 100% fine Irish linen and are extremely proud to be accredited by the Masters of Linen. Masters of Linen is the guarantee of European linen traceability.
After 1,000 years of history, Irish linen is considered a superior fabric, known for its smoothness, strength and tactile finish. Our fabrics finish is enhanced by our 'secret' washing process, using water from a local spring to attain the perfect water hardness/softness balance for pure washed linen.
From the beginning, Richard and Ryan have worked from the ethos of making each new collection better than before. With more than 40 years combined experience designing, weaving, dyeing and finishing of Irish linen, the sheer focus on craftsmanship and provenance lends the Stoker Mills linen brand its global appeal.
Today the Stoker Mills label is sought throughout the world. Its impeccable reputation is a testament to John England’s legacy and the Saunders brothers shared commitment to craft pure Irish linen coupled with customer excellence.
Masters of Linen
Stoker Mills Irish Linen is extremely proud to be accredited by the European Masters of Linen. Masters of Linen is the guarantee of European linen traceability. This guarantees linen that is 100% made in Europe ‘from fields to yarn to fabric’.
From flax to fabric
The history of linen dates back over 4000 years. The challenge with crafting pure linen is that it is made from a natural fibre, the stalks of flax plants. Quality linen is an expensive and time consuming cloth to produce.
Local flax cultivation and government support meant linen remained one of Ireland’s main exports for centuries. From the 1700s forged a name for supplying fine Irish linen to the world. ‘Linenopolis’ (as this part of Belfast was known) grew to be one of the largest linen producers in the world, accounting for more than half of the country’s entire linen production.
The industry has never fully recovered from a global decline in the demand for linen in the 1960s. The past decade has seen the resurgence in the demand for natural authentic products - qualities shared with linen.
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Embroidered into the very fabric of Stoker Mills Irish Linen, and absorbed in family heritage, we are extremely proud to be the owners of the Belfast Theatrical Linens brand. Established in 2006 by John England, Belfast Theatrical Linens showcases a treasure trove of his extensive and innovative designs developed over a period of 50 years. Many of John England’s unique and exclusive designs have featured on the cast of some of the biggest productions in the world such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and James Bond.
Stoker Mills is the warp and Belfast Theatrical Linens the weft and together the legacy of John England remains very much alive today.