When we received a call from the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre asking if we could help them to create a special memory book to mark their leaving Headley Court, the original premises they had been at for over seventy years, we were excited and honoured in equal measure. After speaking to them and understanding the historical significance and importance of the book to them, our team designed a handmade bespoke leather journal, with an accompanying custom clamshell presentation box so that it could sit on proudly on display.

Described as a ‘Memory Book’, the journal was commissioned specially for a Headley Court staff reunion where it was used for people to record their recollections of times gone by and messages of good luck for the future, prior to the move from Headley Court to the Stanford Hall Estate in April 2018. A book with such a significant role and which was going to be kept as part of history needed to be of the utmost quality, made with expert craftsmanship and love. The completely bespoke leather journal and presentation box were made entirely by hand by our skilled in-house team after its design had been scrupulously refined by our internal designers. The result was a truly unique item that impressed all of those who made a contribution to its pages and was certainly a project that we will always remember.

Called “a beautiful piece of art that will be on display…” by the commissioning officer Captain T A Phillips, it’s easy to marvel at the finished item, but to help you really appreciate it we wanted to show you more of what went into making this very special bespoke leather journal and presentation box. Scroll through our step-by-step storyboard below to find out how we transformed this collection of bare materials:

The materials that went into the Headley Court leather journal and box neatly laid out

…into this beautiful handcrafted bespoke leather journal and luxury clamshell presentation box:

Headily Court's bespoke leather journal and presentation box after construction

1) Cut it out.

A sturdy grey board was cut into pre-measured pieces using a guillotine. These provided the framework for the clamshell box, forming the base and sides of the two trays and the lid.

Board is cut with a guillotine for the Headily Court bespoke leather journal

2) Glue it together.

The cut pieces of board were glued into place and held with masking tape to ensure they dried in the correct position.

Board is glued to make a tray for the presentation box to hold the bespoke leather journal

3) Cover all bases.

Once dry, the cardboard structures were covered with specialist covering materials from Winter & Company; a dark green textured ‘leather look’ material for the outside, and a dark purple matte paper for the inside. Particular attention was paid to the corners to ensure the covering was folded and trimmed with a scalpel neatly for a professional finish. The presentation box lid was then foil printed with the Headley Court crest in a traditional gold before being glued to the inner trays, completing the assembly of the box.

The box frame has the green covering material added before its ready to hold the bespoke leather journal

Purple paper is glued to the lining of the box for Headley Court's leather journal

4) The nuts and bolts.

The A3 leather journal that fits inside the box works by holding the pages between two unique elbow hinges which were finished in a matching green covering material. Brass chicago screws fix the paper in place, securely tightened by hand.

Screws being fastened on hinges of the Headley Court bespoke leather journal.

5) Make an impression with a bespoke leather journal.

Real leather was cut into a long rectangle with rounded corners which, when folded would form the cover of the journal. The front section was debossed with the same military emblem as the presentation box on one of our traditional hand presses.

The cover of the bespoke leather journal for Headley Court is debossed with their crest.

6 ) The finished product.

One of the hinged elbows and paper block was screwed into place in the centre of the leather, establishing a ‘spine’ and allowing the flexible leather to fall pleasingly into place to create a protective, stylish cover for the leather journal, which then fitted snugly into the clamshell box.

Finished clamshell presentation box holding the bespoke leather journal for Headley Court.

The journal was a real success at the reunion, being received extremely well. Lieutenant Colonel Sue Pope said “all I can say is WOW!! The team and the Commanding Officer here are so impressed – it is amazing” and went on to thank the entire team for “helping to make (the event) such a special day and for supporting us in our efforts here at Headley Court”.

Someone at Headley Court signing the bespoke leather journal


Take a look at our totally bespoke page and get in touch to speak to a member of our team about your bespoke leather journal and custom packaging ideas.