A SHOPKEEPER and designer who pioneered the sale of ethnic wares has died aged 74.
Ruth Stockland ran Stockland in Little Clarendon Street, Jericho in the 1960s to 1980s with first husband Jonathan.
It opened in 1965 and became one of the first in the country to sell homeware products made in the developing world.
It sold items like shopping baskets woven in Kenya, a customer favourite, and products from acclaimed British brands Liberty and Laura Ashley.
The couple also began selling their own clothes range for women under the label Bluestocking and ran an interior design business, Stockland Dickens, from the second floor.
Major projects it was to take on included the decoration of new buildings like Merton College.
The shop was dubbed “the Sloaniest shop in Little Trendy Street”, a reference to London’s high-end fashion, top-label Sloane Street, by infamous 1980s shopper’s guide the Official Sloane Ranger Directory.
After her first marriage was dissolved she decided to focus on her Bluestocking range, opening a shop in North Parade, which sold nationally via mail order.
Son William Stockland said: “The Bluestocking brand became synonymous with a traditional, but chic style, ideal for the liberal and aspiring Oxford woman.”
Ruth Carole Berger was born in Manchester on August 29, 1939, to parents Leon, an architect, and Mary, a teacher. She has two siblings, Angela Pullin, 71, and Stephen Berger, 72.
Mrs Stockland went to school first in Cheadle, Greater Manchester before her family moved to Southampton, where she attended Southampton Grammar School for Girls.
In 1957 she won a place to study archaeology and anthropology at Girton College, Cambridge, where she met some of the finest anthropologists of her generation, including Sir John Goody.
After completing her degree she spent over a year in rural Tanzania, living with a remote tribe to research oral histories on behalf of the British Institute of History and Archaeology in East Africa.
In 1963 she returned to Britain and took a job at Oxford-based Oxfam, in the information department.
There she met her future husband, Jonathan Stockland, who was the deputy director of the education department. They married in 1965 and had their first child, Rebecca, in 1966 followed by William in 1970.
The couple shared an interest in developing countries, particularly those in eastern and southern Africa and so opened Stockland to sell their wares shortly after they wed.
They traded from the premises until 1985.
In 1986 Mrs Stockland opened Bluestocking, in North Parade, and further expanded her clothing brand.
She closed the business in 1994 due to health problems as well as economic problems.
She met second husband Ronnie Sonneborn in 1988.
Until 1999 she was then a co-ordinator for the Access scheme in Oxford, which helped students from disadvantaged backgrounds get into university.
In retirement she enjoyed watercolour painting and spending time with her grandchildren, Milly and Imogen.
Ruth Stockland died peacefully at home on July 24 after suffering from metastatic breast cancer. She is survived by her husband, her brother and sister, her daughter and son and two grandchildren.
A funeral at Oxford Crematorium took place on July 31.
- Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone's contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.
Our top stories
11:20am Monday 28th July 2014
What do you think? We welcome letters from our readers on a wide variety of subjects and you can send us a letter through the blue headline above.
6:30am Tuesday 1st December 2015
THE gun has been fired for next year’s Oxford Mail OX5 Run.
6:00am Tuesday 1st December 2015
A MAN who escaped from a harrowing ordeal at the hands of a “physically and emotionally abusive” wife has told of his battle to heal the trauma he suffered.
8:00am Monday 30th November 2015
OXFORD’S five tower blocks are about to undergo the biggest makeover in their 50-year existence.
8:30am Saturday 28th November 2015
ROAD safety campaigners say they are “astonished” that drivers with as many as 51 points on their licences are still allowed on the county’s roads.
9:00am Saturday 28th November 2015
YOUNGSTERS at an Oxfordshire primary school could finally be able to tuck into their hot dinners in a dining hall after the Prime Minister came to their aid.
8:00am Saturday 28th November 2015
BAYS in Frideswide Square will be “tweaked” after bus companies complained they were too small to safely accommodate vehicles.