A potted history – the story of Hedingham’s curious collectables

Pewter Partnership Surveyors are period property specialists, whose area encompasses Essex, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Central London. William Pewter BSc MRICS is the Senior Partner and here he shares his expertise and knowledge about Hedingham Pottery, which was produced in Castle Hedingham, where the Pewter Partnership have their base

Posted: October 8, 2018

A potted history

Edward Bingham founded what is known as the Hedingham Potteries in 1837, also known as and often frowned upon, as Hedingham ware. The fine clay found in the area was utilised and very few materials and equipment were purchased, which, say its detractors, of which there are many, is evident in its often crude finishes. Edward’s son, struggled to find a career during his earlier years and spent time assisting his father with the pottery. Sales were slow for his ornamental pottery but demands for more ordinary, plain pottery persisted. Following a visit from Queen Emma of the Sandwich Isles in 1865 saw her giving him royal patronage when she purchased a model of the castle from his retail shop. Edward was still struggling to make a living and he took on the role of sub-postmaster for Castle Hedingham.

With a regular income he could now afford the luxury of discontinuing the plain ware and concentrate on the more ornamental variety. Three years later, Edward found himself making progress with his glazes and exhibited some of his larger vases in Hertford, Sudbury and Chelmsford where they were hugely admired by the Victorians. He developed an interest in lay preaching and bible classes where he also acquired an interest in archaeology and historical antiquities which reflected in the work being produced. Edward’s son, also named Edward, started to assist his father in the pottery and in 1876 he resigned from the post office and returned to potting full time, when he took over the old pottery works which had not been used since his Father’s death in 1872. The Royal Archaeological Society visited the castle in 1876 and Edward made sure some of his finer items were exhibited near the keep, where Sir Henry Cole admired the pottery and indeed, some items were purchased by members of his party. The 1870s and 1880s were a buoyant time for the Binghams where they established a market for the type of pottery they liked making. The 1890s saw the slow decline of any profits made, if any, and this marked the gradual decline of the Hedingham potteries. Hedingham ware is now avidly collected worldwide, although it’s definitely not to everyone’s taste!

Find out more at: pewterpartnershipsurveyors.co.uk