Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Duxhurst & Deborah Harding

Pottery marked as Duxhurst will be new to most readers and even locally to where it was made few have heard of it. I have only ever seen 6 or 7 examples all of which where competently thrown with neatly applied handles to the jugs. Yet I do not know who made it !

Firstly, I will introduce you to the Duxhurst part of the mystery.

The Duxhurst Pottery was associated with the Duxhurst Colony established in 1896 near Reigate, Surrey. The Colony has an interesting history and has been the subject of a recent exhibition.

The colony was established in 1896 with the aims of the rehabilitation of Women addicted to the evils of drink and who had been given the option by the Courts, either prison or the Colony. It was a project of Lady Henry Somerset and the lease was owned by the British Women's Temperance Association. After Lady Somerset died in 1921 and by 1923 the colony had become the Princess Marie Louise Village for Gentlefolk and it was advertised for sale in the times in 1936.

It is not known for sure which period the pottery dates from or who the pottery instructor was. They feel more 1920's than c1900 if you know what I mean. The Blue jug illustrated above and decorated with a silver lustre pattern has impressed Duxhurst marks and marked D.N.H Letchworth. This was for Deborah N Harding, who was a potter who is recorded as having been working in Letchworth, Hertfordshire in the 1920's and 1930's. The V&A collection contains her work. Her connection with Duxhurst is not known. Whether she acquired the pots to decorate or assisted in their making is not known.

Another clue is that they exhibited at the 1922 British Industries Fair hold at the White City, Shepherd Bush, London. They were listed as 
Manufacturers of Earthenware Goods, Casseroles, and Cooking Ware, Butter Coolers, Coffee Pots, Jugs and Domestic Earthenware. (Stand No. G.31a). so ones assumes it was a commerical concern not just occupational therapy.

Click on images to enlarge to full size.

Sadly very little evidence of the colony exists to day. Use the links below for more information.

All the pots I have encountered have had impressed marks. I doubt that there would a reliable way to attribute unmarked items.

The other side of the mystery is the Deborah Harding connection. Was she the teacher or did she just acquire the pot and then decorate it.

Deborah Harding (1903-91) was known as a studio potter who lived in Letchworth, Hertfordshire. She studied at the Central School of Arts and Crafts and at the Royal College of Art. During the 1920's and 30's she established a studio called Wynd and during this period she exhibited at the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, the Paris Exhibition and at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Her work was reviewed in the Studio magazine with the Three Shields Gallery stocking her work. She was known to have taught at a children's school and perhaps this is the connection to Duxhurst. Her potting ended on the outbreak of WW2.

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