Our Heritage

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A Rich History

It was in 1806 that William and Henry Gidden made their first saddle. Within 10 years, their work had become renowned throughout England for its quality and precision.

Since then, everything W & H Gidden has made exemplifies the timeless qualities of English tradition and craftsmanship upon which our reputation has been built.

 

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200 Years of Craftsmanship

W & H Gidden stands for British quality, tradition, and elegance. The classic designs of our range of leather goods reflect this philosophy. All are made to exacting standards of quality and finish, using the finest materials, and draw on the craftsmanship and skills developed and perfected over many decades in the production of some of the finest saddles and bridles in the world. W & H Gidden leather goods include wallets, purses, journals, notebooks, briefcases, clutches, document cases, hand bags, tote bags, and travel bags for men and women.

Many of the fittings on our leather goods, all made in solid brass, have equestrian origins. For instance, the studs on cases and bags are replications of saddle nails and the D-rings that attach carrying straps are those used as fixing points on saddles.

Every item we make bears the stamp of W & H Gidden, discreetly authenticating the quality of the materials and our meticulous attention to detail.

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Softened Bridle Leather

Only the best British full grain bridle leather is used for each piece. Each leather panel is individually selected, colour finished in traditional equestrian tones and then greased by hand to ensure the finest quality.

Tan-coloured “panel hide”—which is very hard-wearing and is so called because of its traditional use on the underside panels where the saddle rests on the horse’s back—is also used as an interior lining for many items.

The colour contrast between bridle leather and panel hide is a signature mark of W & H Gidden small leather goods.

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Our Process

Our process begins with selecting the leather. Each piece of bridle-butt leather—the same leather used for our saddles—is carefully checked for quality and durability. The pieces are then cut to the desired weight and thickness, ensuring balance between strength with malleability, a W & H Gidden trademark.

The leather is then hand cut, assembled, and glued before being stitch-marked with a traditional pricking iron. From there, we hand stitch with waxed linen thread, using a traditional double-hand saddler’s stitch, to ensure strength and durability. Our double-handed stitch is far stronger than machine stitching and cannot unravel due to our figure-8 pattern passing needles into the same hole from back to front, using an even tension. Once a piece has been stitched, the work is carefully inspected and cautiously tapped down to embed the stitches into the leather.

As most of our pieces have a raw-edge construction, the borders of a piece are sanded smooth, stained, and then burnished by hand to lay the fibres in the same direction. An application of gum and elbow grease by hand with a cow bone and cloth allows the edges to be polished—protecting them and providing a smooth finished surface.

Finally, every piece is thoroughly inspected for quality and polished clean with a natural bristle brush before it leaves our London workshop.