Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Leicester and the Staffordshire Potteries: A Photo Diary

Last week blue jersey dad and I traveled to Leicester, UK to attend the annual meetings of the Society for Historical Archaeology. I was part of a panel on animals in the urban environment, and dad’s former boss and a colleague were presenting a paper on their work at Valley Forge. (Dad was co-director of a major excavation project at Valley Forge between 2000 and 2003).

While we were at the meetings, we had an opportunity to see some of the historic town of Leicester and to visit the Gladstone potteries museum. Leicester has been in the news recently since local archaeologists have discovered a skeleton that appears to the the remains of Richard III aka Crick-Back Dick.

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Here you can see two views of the cathedral in Leicester which is dedicated to St. Martin. Here is a view of the entrance:

And here is a view of the tower:

Richard’s body was found in a rescue excavation near here.

Here is a view of the Guildhall which was built in 1390. You can see a part of the cathedral in the background.

The conference reception was held at the Guildhall. Here is a view of the interior:

This is a view of the Gladstone Pottery Museum. It was an active pottery until 1970. When production ceased, it was scheduled for demolition. Fortunately, it was turned into a museum instead. Although the pottery was established in the late 18th century, most of the remaining structures and features date from around 1850. You can see one of the bottle kilns in the background here:

Here is a view of the interior of one of the kilns. Individual pottery vessels were fired within the large clay pots that you can see here.

We had lunch at the museum. Tea was served using the old cups and saucers.

In most 19th-century excavations we find hundreds of sherds of pottery vessels that were produced by the Staffordshire potteries. It was a real pleasure to see how this pottery was made.  


  1. Moozmuse

    However – I’m even more excited by the discovery of Richard III’s remains, I hadn’t heard about it. Shakespeare’s Richard III is one of my favorite Elizabethan plays (I like Christopher’s Marlowe’s work better, actually, but Will was no slouch…) Here is a marvelous rendition of the famous soliloquy “Now is the winter of our discontent…” by Lawrence Olivier in 1955 – a classic!

  2. slksfca

    I have Staffordshire ancestors, but they were metalworkers rather than potters. I’ve always wanted to see that part of the world in person. 🙂

  3. princesspat

    The photo’s of the dainty floral cup and then the huge kiln is so interesting to think about.

    I’ve been collecting Spode china for years, but the old pieces are to collectible to really use so now I’ve got The Blue Room reproductions just for fun. I enjoy  having a history lesson with the grand kids as we are setting the table. It’s fun to see their curiosity grow.  

  4. 1864 House

    that when I think of Richard III I immediately flash on Richard Dreyfus’ singularly awful and hysterically funny lisping, limping turn in The Goodbye Girl?

  5. This place just keeps getting better.

    You may have noticed that fogiv is in the business. He has initiated wonderful conversations on the topic, and as the political present is predicated on the past imho it is not at all OT.

    We DVR all the Antiques Roadshow episodes. Just a moment ago I watched one that ended with a 15th century ring that left me breathless.

    Just the image of someone making something that fine at that time boggles the mind.

  6. iriti

    And thanks. Sounds like a great trip.

    What’s the degree of confidence that the body they found really is Richard III? I know I read they were attempting some DNA testing.

    My Mom has some china like that handed down from my father’s mother…I have no idea how old it is, but it’s beautiful and looks so delicate. We don’t use it though, just look at it.

  7. Mnemosyne

    from Grannie. A whole clutch of them, still packed away somewhere after the last move. Now, where are they? Hmmmmmm.

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