From time to time as I dig new parts of the garden there’s a flash of blue and white among the clods, stones and weed roots. Some of the fragments of broken crockery have the familiar elements of traditional Willow Pattern, others show stylised flowers or geometric borders. I’ve turned up a few odments decorated with random, blue and white sponge marks and recently three pieces of a larger platter, hand painted with flowers and trellis work.
Over the last few days I’ve been clearing and cultivating a small patch of ground in the angle of the boundary wall and the remains of an old pig sty. Under a mat of nettle roots I found dark, moist soil, rich in well rotted organic matter. The ground here also yielded a rich haul of pottery remnants. Clearly this corner had once served as a general purpose midden.
Not so much blue and white here but more sturdy, practical earthenware. In this collection (above) there are pieces of two large pancheons or mixing bowls, (flowerpot brown on the outside, cream glazed on the inside), part of the lid of a heavy bread crock, the handle of a brown teapot, the base of a salt-glazed bottle and the bowl of a clay tobacco pipe. All give fleeting glimpses into the lives of people who once lived in ‘our’ cottage.
In cultivated ground it’s unusual to find more than one fragment of the same piece of pottery. Under the nettles in the midden corner the ground hadn’t been disturbed for a long time and I began to find scattered pieces of ceramic jigsaws. The unusual, veined pattern of these heavy fragments caught my eye, then the wide, rounded rim and the sturdy foot to the vessel. An image search for blue-veined white china threw up a close match:
A mid-nineteenth century chamber pot gives another glimpse of long gone lives.
Click twice on any photo for a closer view.