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The Origin of Bell Tents

The modern Bell Tent has its history in traditional tents from all over the Northern Hemisphere, starting with tents like the Lavvu that were used by native nomadic tribes in Northern Europe.

The Bell Tent design was first started to be used by European militaries as far back as the 9th Century, and the design was in regular service with the British Army by the Crimean War (1853-1856).

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Around the same time, a US Army Colonel, Henry Hopkins Sibley, patented a tent (named after himself, of course) that was licenced to the US Army. He took his inspiration from tipis he’d seen whilst serving on the Texas Frontier in the 1850’s, and his tent featured a single centre pole, no side walls and a vented “cap” for smoke from a stove to escape. The US Army licensed his design for $5 for every tent manufactured, and went on to produce over 44,000 by the end of the American Civil War. Unfortunately Sibley defected to the Confederacy, so he never received any royalties as he was deemed a traitor!

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Bell Tents became very popular with both militaries and civil organisations, and thousands were used in both World Wars, as well as by Scout groups worldwide.

Over time, and with the advent of new synthetic materials, the design of the Bell Tent evolved – adding in features like mesh windows, and an a-frame inside the door, as well as PVC groundsheets (which weren’t a feature of any bell tents till well into the second half of the 20th Century!)

Camping with Soul is continuing the proud tradition of innovation with the Bell Tent while still using unbleached cotton canvas. With waterproofing agents having improved so much over the last decade, gone are the days of starting a leak by touching the roof during rain and this enables us to keep the canvas lighter making tents more portable and quicker to dry.

Since starting in 2006 Camping with Soul continues to develop the Bell Tent concept.

After launching with the “Standard” separate groundsheet we designed the “Deluxe” with its integral groundsheet and then brought the bestselling “Ultimate” with zippable groundsheet to the market in 2009. We continue to introduce new sizes and varieties like the Emperor and our range of Twin Door Bell Tents and also stock over 200 Camping with Soul Accessories to compliment your tent. Click here to choose the perfect tent.

Photo courtesy of Tony Tomlinson

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