Royal Worcester bone china plate
Royal Worcester bone china plate

Porcelain was produced in England from the late 1740s, first at Chelsea and soon afterwards at Derby, Bow.and elsewhere. The early products included figures (particularly from Bow and Derby) and dinnerware (from Bow). The Chelsea factory was established by Nicholas Sprimont, a silversmith, and initially produced pieces strongly influenced by silverware designs. During the 1850s, Chelsea was increasingly influenced by Meissen and continued in this style until it was purchased by William Duesbury of Derby in 1770. From then until its closure in 1792, Chelsea produced wares in the Derby style.

While the London factories, such as Derby, Bow and Chelsea, were strongly influenced by European porcelain from Meissen and Serves and by the shapes of contemporary silverware, provincial factories, like Liverpool and Lowestoft, tended to produce chinoiserie styles until almost the turn of the century.

The Worcester Porcelain Factory was established in 1751 by Dr John Wall to produce high quality, useful wares – such as tea and coffee sets, jugs, bowls and small dishes. (The soapstone porcelain body used was not suitable for large dishes.) When Dr Wall died in 1776, the new owner decided to concentrate on blue and white printed wares. Many regard the blue and white wares produced at Worcester in the following ten years as the best ever made in Europe.

In 1772, a factory was established at Caughley and produced wares similar to Worcester, although Caughley often used gilding to complement its blue and white and also produced miniature wares for children. The Caughley factory was taken over by Coalport in 1799.

Coalport china cup & saucer
Coalport china cup & saucer

Bone china was introduced by Worcester in about 1800. Derby, Rockingham, Coalport and others soon followed. By the 1820s, bone china was the staple of the English porcelain industry.

During the 19th century, it was fashionable for English houses to display busts of famous cultural figures and copies of Classical Greek statues. In the wealthier households, these would be made from marble but cheaper substitutes were developed for middle class homes. At first, plaster of Paris was used but, from about 1840, a type of fine-grained, unglazed porcelain, called Parian, was used. The new material was introduced by the firm of Copeland and Garrett, closely followed by Minton. There were many other manufacturers of Parian, the most prolific being Robinson and Leadbetter.

Parian paste is made from felspar, kaolin and a glassy flint. Sometimes the paste is tinted blue, green or terracotta. (The ground of Wedgwood’s famous Jasper ware is basically coloured Parian.) When Parian wares are fired, they undergo enormous shrinkage, producing fine, crisp detail.

English porcelain factories:

Chelsea (established 1745)
Bristol (1749)
Bow (1750)
Limehouse (1750)
Longton Hall (1750)
Derby (1751)
Worcester (1751)
Caughley (1772)
Coalport (1780)
Liverpool (1710)
Lowestoft (1737)
Pinxton (1796)
Nantgarw (1813)
Rockingham (1820)
Plymouth (hard paste)
Bristol (hard paste)
New Hall (hard paste)

English porcelain available now
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