Reflecting an aspect of industry in the county and the skills of local people, our Ceramics Collection has developed into one of national importance.
The collection consists of around 3,500 pieces of pottery and porcelain, mainly from the eighteenth and nineteenth century. It includes examples of famous tea sets and tiles made by local companies such as Caughley, Coalport, and Maw’s & Co., who sold their ware around the world.
A small number of pieces from the collection reflect the importance of the ceramics industry to the towns from Much Wenlock down into the Ironbridge Gorge.
Our major ceramics display features key pieces which reflect the history of ceramics production in Shropshire and the stories of the people who made them. Nearby is a small display of Shrewsbury’s fine civic silver collection.
Our Caughley porcelain collection contains an array of their characteristic blue and white ware. This includes examples of their well-known cabbage-leaf jugs with mask-head spout, and many tea and dinner services. The collection also includes several rare pieces and patterns.
Our Coalport porcelain collection contains a variety of mostly tableware featuring the floral designs favoured by the company. We also have numerous examples of rather flamboyant Coalbrookdale-style pieces, which feature elaborate three-dimensional floral designs in bright colours.
Our Maw’s & Co. collection includes examples of encaustic floor tiles with geometric patterns, bright glazed majolica tiles made for use on interior walls and fire surrounds as well as painted tiles. Amongst this collection there are a small number of extremely rare lustre glazed vases designed by Walter Crane.
Alongside items produced by these, and other companies such as Craven Dunnill and Salopian Art Pottery, there is also a reference collection of ceramics from excavations around the county. These are mainly from industrial manufacturing sites and provide historic context to the collection.
Most of the decorative art collection has been acquired through donation since 1974. Small historic collections, such as that of Whitchurch Museum, were inherited by the local authority museums. In more recent years large private collections have been purchased or donated.