have heard of the
remarkable 18th century polished steelwork for which Woodstock was once
famous. It was reputedly made from
horseshoe nails reworked to make delicate faceted studs, cut like
diamonds and highly polished they were used to decorate watch chains, buckles,
scissors, buttons, and other items. Cut-steel short swords were particularly
sought after. Sold locally, but also in London its international reputation was
spread by fashionable tourists visiting Blenheim Palace.
In 1742 Horace Walpole
sent Woodstock steel wares to the British Consul in Florence requesting that
they be given as diplomatic gifts. In 1759 buckles were ordered for the King of
Prussia and in 1768 the King of Denmark, on a visit to Blenheim, also bought
steel. The early 18th century origins of the industry are obscure and within
less than a hundred years it had disappeared entirely in the face of competition
from the Birmingham manufacturers.