Colonial Williamsburg® The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's Official History and Citizenship Website

Page content
Reset text sizeResize text larger

April 15, 2011

Twelve Newborn Leicester Longwool Lambs Added to Colonial Williamsburg’s Rare Breeds Program

The first of Colonial Williamsburg’s newborn Leicester Longwool lambs have been introduced to the public in the Historic Area’s Blue Bell Tavern pasture.

Elaine Shirley, Colonial Williamsburg’s manager of the Rare Breeds, said as of April 12, a dozen new lambs have been added to the Foundation’s sheep flock. “Some lambs and ewes that need additional care spend some time in the Foundation’s stable facilities before they are put in a Historic Area pasture,” she said. “If the lambs or ewes need medication, feeding or just special attention, I bring them to the stables to keep an eye on them.”

The gestation period for Leicester Longwool ewes is approximately five months. They begin giving birth in late March and early April.

Guests can see lambs at Blue Bell Tavern pasture on Waller Street near Christiana Campbell’s Tavern, in the Taliaferro-Cole pasture at the corner of Nassau and Francis Streets or the Wetherburn’s Tavern’s pasture that fronts Francis Street in the Historic Area.

Leicester (pronounced “lester”) Longwools are part of Colonial Williamsburg’s Rare Breed program. This breed originated in Britain and were used as a pioneer breed. Their use extended to America, Australia, New Zealand and other colonies settled by the Crown. Today they are quite rare in Britain and North America, but they still can be imported from New Zealand or Australia. Their wool is sold to hand spinners, weavers, felters and dollmakers for hair and beards. The original flock of Colonial Williamsburg’s Leicester Longwool sheep came from Tasmania, but now the sheep are bred here.

The Rare Breeds program is recognized by the American Livestock Breeds Conservatory (ALBC) for “its outstanding historical, agricultural interpretation.” Colonial Williamsburg is a pioneer in the field of not only showing the animals, but also in conservancy and breeding.

“Rare” is defined by the ALBC as having fewer than 1,000 animals registered annually in North America. The Leicester Longwool sheep has fewer than 200 animals registered annually in North America.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural organization dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia. This town-sized living history museum tells the inspirational stories of our journey to become Americans through programs in the Historic Area and through the award-winning Revolutionary City program. Colonial Williamsburg is committed to expanding its thought-provoking programming through education outreach on-site and online. Purchase of Colonial Williamsburg products and services supports the preservation, research and educational programs of the Foundation. Philanthropic support by individuals, corporations, and foundations benefits the educational mission of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121