Royal standard

Laura Cartledge believes making your bed wouldn’t be a chore if it involved linens from one Bognor Regis company. 

When someone tells you their job includes ‘pillow testing’ it is hard not to be envious.
However Heirlooms Ltd can’t be accused of napping on the job. Ltd Apr15 JPETThe Bognor Regis fine linen company boasts a prestigious customer list from the royals to super yachts.
“Feeling is believing,” explains general manager Ruth Douglas, “and washing, or sleeping in it, is the proof of the pudding.”
It is not unheard of for people to notice such a difference they check the labels on pillowcases and get in touch.
“We had a chap who stayed on the Maltese Falcon. I think he was a friend of the person who owned it, and he rang us,” she reveals.
“We’ve had people who have been on a boat and asked the stewardess where the linen is from.
“Recently we had a lady call to order more and she said whenever she goes to the laundrette at the marina or wherever, the guy there comments on how much he loves our linen.”
Ruth admits it is easy to say something is better than something else, but Heirlooms take pride in being able to prove it. Ltd Apr15 JPET“The bottom line is we are responsible for what we supply. We are all about quality, service and attention to detail,” agrees Ruth.
“We are pleased that really you can bring us anything and we’ll make something which matches.
“Interior designers can come to us with moodboards,” she continues. “We are in the black books of the rich, the famous and royalty. A lot of our work comes from recommendation.”
With more than 30 years of manufacturing experience, and royal warrants for supplying the Queen and the Prince of Wales, Heirlooms takes the concept of bespoke up a level.“We sell to the public but we are primarily a trade company,” says Ruth. “We don’t want to be a slave to retail.
“We don’t want to work to fashion, or have to make hundreds just because. We want to work with people to create what is right for them.”
Compared to its sizable reputation this focused approach benefits from a compact team.
“We are a small company, we are a small team and everyone’s role is important,” she enthuses.
“We want to stay a small company and keep the personal relationships we have with our clients – we want to keep being able to choose what we do.” Ltd Apr15 JPETUnderstandably there are people, of which I am one, who are surprised to discover a company of such standing in an industrial park among carpet shops and garages.
“I think some people don’t believe we make it here. We will say to people if you want to come just let us know,” smiles Ruth.
“We are looking at new premises, or building, which would double the space we have now – I would like to have an apprentice scheme.”
One Hyde ParkRemarkably a 100 per cent increase would take the workforce to approximately 50, a ‘comfortable’ level which means it can keep ensuring standards are high.
“It’s lovely for us to go out into the workroom and see something you’ve designed being made,” she says simply.
“Plus we keep all the records of anything we have made for a client so we know, if they phone us, the size of the bed for example.”
The linen may be made of Egyptian cotton, woven in Italy, but Ruth says Heirlooms is proud to be a part of Sussex’s impressive industry portfolio and hopes it will be a part of its ‘areas of excellence’ as they continue
to grow.
“I think people are realising that we have lost a lot of our manufacturing capacity, but the UK is well known for our craftsmanship,” she insists.
“And with what happened in Bangladesh with that horrible fire, it is unforgivable for a company to not know how their products are being made.
Heirlooms Ltd Apr15 JPET“We have to do our bit to ensure we are maintaining animal welfare and workers welfare,” she adds, “we send that right back up the line.”
There’s no doubt Heirlooms combines traditional values, exceptional quality and cutting edge technology but, as Ruth admits, ‘the product does the talking’.
“And why spend all that time decorating your room and then put cheap linen in?” asks Ruth.
“We see ourselves as the icing on the cake, we are the final point of making it.”
One thing is for sure, I know I’ll never look at bedding in the same way again.

For more about Heirlooms Ltd, 2 Arun Business Park, Bognor Regis, visit or call 01243 820252.