Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Surrey Hampshire Border Ware

Pottery continued to be made on the Surrey Hampshire Border, with Farnborough the main centre. Pottery produced in this area in the 16th -17th centuries seems to be referred to as Surrey Border Ware. 

The pottery is still buff coloured, but more refined.  Production techniques changed. The pottery was subject to two firings, the first to render the thinner vessels hard enough to decorate and a final firing after the application of glaze. 

In the mid 16th Century potters began to use a tougher type of clay. This together with improved firing techniques meant quartz in the form of sand didn't need to be added as a tempering agent to the clay mixture to add strength. Hence you can tell if you have the later shards by their smoothness and absence of 'black bits', as below

Mudlarking Finds: Possibly porringers and a Chafing Dish
Fine table ware began to replace the large utilitarian vessels of the medieval period, so another clue is form type. Potters extended their range to include these unfamiliar poetic names 'porringers',  'pipkins', 'chafing dishes' and  'fuming pots'. Porringers were used for foods which were eaten with a spoon and were often used to reheat food. 
Porringer 1550-1700 (Museum of London) 
Chafing dishes were portable heating devises. Hot coals were placed at the bottom and a dish balanced on the lugs to keep food hot. 
Chafing Dish 1550-1700 (Museum of London) 
Clear lead glaze began to be used which turned yellow when fired, in addition to the green glazes achieved by adding copper. The glaze on these 16th-17th century shards tends to cover the whole piece, usually the interior and is more uniform than the glaze found on medieval pottery. These examples include the edge of a large platter and a shard from a colander or strainer, another two new forms for the border potters. 

Border Ware Strainer 1601-33 (Museum of London) 
Other objects included money boxes,candle sticks, chamber pots and probably my favourite but not yet found, chicken feeding dishes. 
16th Century Border Ware Chicken Feeder (V&A) 

Germany was Europe's ceramic leader and at least one German potter settled in the Surrey Borders. This influence perhaps led Surrey borders to produce masses of tripod pipkins, a form popular in Germany. The characteristic small hollow handles are a reasonably common find along the Thames. A stick could be inserted into the handle to make it longer and of course less hot. Pipkins were placed on the coals at the edge of a fire and some recipes specified using an earthenware rather than a metal pipkin. 

Mudlarking Finds: Pipkin Handles 16th - 17th C

Tripod Pipkin 1636-1700 (Museum of London) 
Ellicksander Pottage.
Chop ellicksanders and oatmeal together,
being picked and washed, then set on
a pipkin with fair water, and when it
boils, put in your herbs, oatmeal, and
salt, boil it on a soft fire, and make it
not too thick, being almost boil’d put
in some butter.
 The Accomplisht Cook by Robert May 1678

When you scoop up one of these finds along the foreshore, it may well have come from a London which looked like this, 

Wyngaerde - Central London 1550 

This white pottery dominated London from 1500-1700 a period which saw London's population expand from  50,000- 600,000. It died out in the 18th century.  

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