Twig or besom brooms

kit to make miniature broom
© F H Powell 2008

Before brooms were mass-produced people used to make their own. Originally a simple handful of twigs from the broom shrub (hence the name), these twigs were bound together onto a handle. This evolved into the broom nowadays associated with the type witches ride or a garden broom.

© McQueenie Miniatures 2010

To make a besom broom a fairly straight piece of branch, for the handle, would be stripped of any side branches to make a smooth stick. A small piece of stick would be tied or nailed to the handle about a third of the way up at right angles to the shaft. This small stick would help to keep the sweeping twigs (making up the sweeping head or brush) in place without the whole of the brush head falling off the handle.
Twigs for the brush were collected in the winter (when there was less sap in the twigs) and often stored until required.
A series of small flexible twigs or heather would be gathered together and tightly tied in two places around the handle, just above and just below the securing twig. The brush could easily be replaced when it wore out as it often did on one side.
In some parts of the UK, in early times, a marriage was performed by the simple act of the couple holding hands and jumping over a broom. The broom having firstly been set across the doorway of the bride’s house or the new home of the couple. This practice was later outlawed by the Church, however the practice continued well into the 20th Century, although it was now seen as a fertility custom following a Church marriage.
Today these traditional brooms can once again be encountered, usually in gardens and are especially useful for collecting together fallen leaves or to sweep debris from a lawn. Since the advent of fitted carpets and vacuum cleaners the traditional twig broom (or any form of manufactured broom) is rarely found inside a house.

miniature leaves
© F H Powell 2010