Sheet Care

A brief history of Blankets and Duvets

A brief history of Blankets and Duvets

According to Wikipedia; A blanket is a piece of soft cloth large enough to cover most of the user's body, trapping body heat that otherwise would be lost, and so keeping the body warm.

And a duvet is a type of bedding consisting of a soft flat bag filled with down, feathers, wool, silk or a synthetic alternative, and typically protected with a removable cover.

Unless of course you are an Australian then it’s a doona. But this blog isn’t about Australia so that’s not important.

What came first?

A Flemish weaver from Bristol, England in the 1300’s, is credited with creating the blanket which was a heavily napped woollen weave. So why was this particular weaver considered to be the father of the blanket, probably because his name was Thomas Blanquette.

Duvets originated in rural Europe and were filled with the down feathers of ducks or geese. Unfortunately for Mr Blanquette it is believed that early versions of duvets were being used by Vikings. The Vikings were accused of pillaging and plundering their way around that part of the world between 793 and 1066. Or in other words 300 years ahead of the British in being warm at night.

Now I’m not saying it takes the English 300 years but . . . . . An English diplomat and merchant called Paul Rycaut was visiting Hamburg in 1689 where he slept under “stuffed coverings”. He tried to sell the product back in England, but didn’t succeed. Either the goose or duck down needed for the filling was too expensive or maybe it was because the idea was “foreign”.

As a side note a few generations ago the English considered bedding so valuable that sheets, pillows, and blankets would often be bequeathed in someone's will.

Warp forward 300 years, notice a pattern? In the 1950’s Harrods was selling duvets with limited success. Then in the 60s, interior design chain, Habitat, achieved mass market success. Of course, one of the early ads featuring a naked couple in bed, covered only by a brown and white duvet provoked "numerous" complaints.

According to a BBC article, in 2013, 87% of BBC readers preferred duvets to blankets and given 7.6 million duvets were sold in the UK in August of 2015. Maybe it’s the English are just slow to change a good thing.