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History of English Delft
18th Century
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HISTORY OF ENGLISH TIN GLAZED EARTHENWARE

The tradition of tin glazed earthenware has strong links with the industry of 'delftware' in Holland and as such is often referred to as 'English delft'. The earliest known producers in England of the highly sought after tin glazed pottery were immigrants from Antwerp, first settling in Norwich in 1567 then later moving to Alder Gate London where there is record of a pottery with six more Flemish potters under employment. Religious persecution by the Spanish in the low countries towards protestants forced people to flee, England was attractive to the Flemish potters with a certain amount of freedom in their religion, commercially 'tin' glazed ceramics was an established lucrative market and clay in Norfolk was very suitable for the industry. Clay from Yarmouth can be traced as being exported from 1597 to Rotterdam to be used in the delftware industry and later the same clay source were transported to London when the industries moved to the capital.

At this stage the pottery produced differs little from the Dutch imported pottery and attributing pottery directly to the early site in London can be difficult. The earliest known dated piece of English delft is held at the Museum of London.

The photograph to the left is a replica of the original which is dated 1600(2),  just within  the reign of Elizabeth I.

 It is inscribed with the words.

'THE ROSE IS RED THE LEAVES ARE GRENE GOD SAVE ELIZABETH OUR QUEENE'

The scene is that of the Tower of London from the south bank of the Thames, given the date it is almost certainly produced at Alder Gate. The rim of the pot has an arabesque design used greatly on Italian pottery.

The Italian 'maiolica' pottery industry (15thC)can be linked to the Dutch industry. An Italian potter, Guildo da Savinio, who moved to Antwerp in the early part of the 16th century. He  changed his name to Guido Andries, more suitable for his adoptive country, setting up a pottery there, producing similar items to those he produced in Italy. Thus explaining the progression of style and the use of familiar designs. It was his sons, accompanied by Jacob Jansen who moved to Norfolk.

By the time the Southwark potteries were well established - an identifiable style can be seen . Pickleherring Quay pottery heavily influenced by Chinese blue and white porcelain pottery of the late Ming dynasty, imported into England. The bird on the rock design dates from 1618-1640.

 This photograph is a replica of an original piece from Pickleherring Quay pottery

Original 1625-30 Housed at the Museum of London.

As the English delft industry established itself, painting styles, techniques and shapes all expanded to meet an ever growing market. The versatility of the pottery showed itself, in inscribed commemorative wares, wedding gifts, ornaments and simple wine bottles. Each pottery producing a greater range to supply the demanding population. The surviving pieces give a rare insight into lives from the past, a birth, marriage or historic foot note. My favourite of all the English delft ware pieces remains a set of six plates.

SET OF (6) MERRYMEN PLATES. (1734)

(1)WHAT IS A MERRY MAN 

(2) LET HIM DO WHAT HE CANN

(3) TO ENTERTAIN HIS GUESTS

4) WITH WINE AND MERRY JESTS

5) BUT IF HIS WIFE DOTH FROWN

(6) ALL MERRYMENT GOES DOWN.

Some things perhaps don't change as much as we think.

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