The rich pattern of Shropshire

PUBLISHED: 15:21 10 July 2009 | UPDATED: 08:56 21 February 2013

Eighteenth Century Caughley porcelain was produced on the banks of the Severn for just 24 years yet it is an enduring Salopian success story says Jeremy Lamond of Hall Fine Art, Shrewsbury

Eighteenth Century Caughley porcelain was produced on the banks of the Severn for just 24 years yet it is an enduring Salopian success story says Jeremy Lamond of Hall Fine Art, Shrewsbury

Whilst the American colonies were fighting for their independence, a much smaller concern than a sovereign nation was being set up in Shropshire for the purposes of porcelain production.
Around 1775 Thomas Turner established a manufactory on the banks of the River Severn, not far from Ironbridge, near Broseley and began the precarious process of firing porcelain. Caughley was born and although the factory lasted only 24 years before being sold to John Rose of Coalport in 1799, sufficient quantities of porcelain were produced for there to be an energetic band of collectors and dealers in Caughley today.
Identification of Caughley pieces, in many respects close in design and execution to the rival Worcester factory, has been helped by the existence of a large number of shards or wasters found on the factory site. Consequently identification can be fairly straightforward for the more common patterns although there is still much lively debate in the local Caughley Society about attribution of some pieces and patterns and the' Caughley or Worcester?' debate is alive and well. Happily Caughley often marked pieces with an underglaze blue 'S' with serif denoting 'Salopian'.
For scholars of Caughley one of the leading authorities on the factory is Geoffrey Godden who wrote an influential book first published in 1969 by Herbert Jenkins titled Caughley and Worcester Porcelains 1775-1800 and which can still be found for £60 or £70 from good second hand book dealers. This monograph was updated with a chapter on Caughley porcelains in Godden's Guide to English Blue and White Porcelain published in 2004 by the Antique Collectors Club. There has been a great deal of research on Caughley since the first book and the later work includes the current debates.
At auction Caughley, especially in Shropshire, is much sought after and prices are keen for the rarities and robust for more common items such as the' Fisherman' pattern and the 'Fence' pattern. Since a great deal of Caughley's output was blue and white porcelain table wares, these appear to be the greatest survivors. There are also polychrome wares and blue and white porcelains gilded at the Chamberlain's Worcester factory, the latter also being retailers. But predominantly the porcelains are either painted or printed blue and white wares with the 'Broseley' print being the most common and successful.
Recently a small collection of Caughley porcelains came up at Halls Fine Art and the lots were eagerly fought over by local collectors and dealers. Typically the wares were blue and white, some gilded. Typically also with Caughley there was debate about attribution and a spoon tray which was gilded but of an unfamiliar pattern and shape was declared not to be Caughley by some whilst others demurred. The spoon tray realised £170 (estimate £60/100).
Top price in the July auction was for a Caughley blue and white porcelain baluster mug printed with a Butterfly Rose and Flower Sprays and with a grooved loop handle and bearing the 'S' mark to the base. Estimated at £200/250 this mug brought £760 to a local collector. Also sought after was a blue and white porcelain milk jug of baluster form and printed in blue with the Three Flowers and Butterfly pattern and dated to 1780. It sold for £230 against hopes of £60/100.
The 'valuable stock of the Royal Salopian Porcelain Manufactory' was sold at the Bell Inn in Wolverhampton in April 1800 and the Caughley buildings are thought to have been demolished in 1815 with John Rose concentrating production at Coalport. Nevertheless, nearly two hundred years after its demise, the demand for Caughley porcelains is as strong as ever. If we can resurrect country ales, local cheeses and restore corn mills to bake local bread, perhaps the time is right to rescue the plaster of paris moulds and bake revived Caughley in new ovens once more by the banks of the Severn!

For more information on Caughley visit The Caughley Society at www.caughley.co.uk or call Jeremy Lamond at Halls Fine Art on 08451 309 610

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Shropshire Life