Our History

Womersley, the early years


The WOMERSLEY business was launched in 1979 by Martin and Aline Parsons from their home, Womersley Hall, in Yorkshire using a constructed single storey building that was previously used to store apples. After the war, this was then turned into a shop selling local crafts and herbal goods.

The shop was always busy, heaving with goods: herbal pillows, corn dollies, wood turning, glass, dried flowers, cards and masses more which lent the whole building to become a permanently fragrant air. With a long held love of herbs and a big kitchen garden, Martin was now in his element. He really loved developing herbal remedies and grew a huge number of herbs to make all the various sachets and oils.


Image of Martin and Aline Parsons.

One day, when Martin’s mum was visiting, she wondered whether the shop could sell her Mint Jelly. She had used the same recipe for many years, one which included green colouring! Aline gave it a go but, upon seeing the beautiful rich golden colour of the jelly, she decided to omit the green colouring. That was the first condiment produced by Womersley Foods and it proved popular enough that Martin and Aline soon decided to try other herbs in the garden to make more jellies... And the rest as they say is history.

Image of Martin Parsons holding a pepper in his garden.

Martin attributed his expert knowledge of speciality herbs to his family’s background. The Parsons family lived in Yorkshire for generations and is famous for their grand gardens and horticulture at Nymans in Sussex and Birr Castle in Ireland.

Martin’s instinctive ability to blend specialist herbs and sumptuous fruits with vinegar and sugar has created for home cooks and chefs a product of such versatility that they are rightly famous and have won numerous awards.

In 2009, Martin and Aline’s son, Rupert, took on the running of Womersley Foods. Since doing so, he has outsourced the production to a high quality professional kitchen as well as rebranding the company.

The making of fruit vinegars goes back many years and, at Womersley Foods, we decided to concentrate on making the taste of the fruits and herbs the key point of difference. We remain a family business even though we are now based in Oxfordshire and no longer in Yorkshire. The Parsons family has a long history of keen botanists, and we preserve these values of trying to enhance the natural flavours of the ingredients in our products and, by doing this, offer a key ingredient which can be used to transform many dishes.

A new chapter begins

2023 sees the Womersley business ownership transferred from the Parsons family to the Ashiru family led by Labaika to continue the legacy of the business and expand it for the next generation. Labaika, a passionate foodie himself, loves cooking and experimenting with different foods in the kitchen. With a background in branding and design working with different large FMCG brands as well as a cook in different restaurants in the past, Labaika brings his passion and enthusiasm for the business and its products to lead it to the next level growth and continue the legacy created by the Parsons family. 

 The wild flower border at Nymans