Brislington Pottery

Posted on: July 5th, 2016 by webfooted

Brislington parish, Somerset.

Summary of operating dates and proprietors

c1652-1659 John Bissicke, Robert Bennett I and Robert Collins.
1659-1668 Alice Bennett/Huntington (the widow of Robert Bennett I, she married Solomon Huntington). Robert Collins retained an interest in the Pottery until his death in 1689.
1669-1671 Robert Bennett II (the son of Robert Bennett I).
1671 Sarah Bennett I/Wastfield (the widow of Robert Bennett II, she married Robert Wastfield). She operated the Pottery alone until she married Robert Wastfield in 1672.
1672-1677 Sarah Bennett I/Wastfield (she operated the Pottery with Robert Wastfield until his death in 1677).
1677-1679 Sarah Bennett I/Wastfield (she operated the Pottery alone until her death in 1679).
1679-1690 Sarah Bennett II/Dickson (the daughter of Robert Bennett II and the step-daughter of Robert Wastfield, she married Thomas Dickson in 1685).
1690-1730 Thomas Dickson (the widower of Sarah Bennett II/Dickson).
1730-1733 Thomas Dickson and Thomas Taylor I were in partnership until Thomas Dickson’s death in 1733.
1733-1747 Thomas Taylor I (he became bankrupt in 1743, but took an apprentice in 1745 and was paying rates on the Pottery until 1746. The apprentice was transferred in 1747 so the Pottery must have ceased production around then).

The pottery closed and was advertised for sale in 1752.

For a detailed history of the Brislington Pottery and a discussion about its location, see the Dissertation section of this website.

Wares produced

Tin-glazed earthenwares.

Finds of waste pottery and kiln material

A number of finds of kiln waste have been made in the vicinity of the Brislington Pottery:
Pountney, W.J. 1920. Old Bristol potteries. Bristol: J.W. Arrowsmith Ltd, pages 23-27.
In 1914 Pountney excavated the site of the medieval chapel of St Anne and found large quantities of kiln waste and kiln furniture.  He also claimed to have found structural remains of the pottery but this now seems unlikely.
(HER no. 20221; BRSMG accession no. 78/1986).

Maxwell, H.W. 1939. Recent excavations in Bristol. Transactions of the English Ceramic Circle 2.7, 115-119.
In about 1937 Maxwell found waste pottery and kiln furniture during the construction of a reservoir at St Anne’s Board Mills, about half a mile to the north-east of the site of St Anne’s chapel. Two decorated sherds bore the dates 1652 and 1653.  Maxwell mentions in passing that the find spot was ‘evidently the site of a pottery, as some of the fragments were found in a recess in the brickwork of what appears to have been the foundations of a pottery oven’.  Unfortunately he did not elaborate on the structures discovered.
(HER no. 20216).

Louis Lipski, a pottery collector, found quantities of wasters on various sites in Bristol, including Brislington. He did not record the exact location of his discoveries and after his death the finds from the different sites became mixed together and therefore of little use in identifying the products of any individual pottery (information from David Dawson, former Curator of Archaeology, Bristol City Museum, where the finds are now housed).

Ponsford, M. & Jackson, R. (eds.) 1996. Post-medieval Britain and Ireland in 1995. Journal of the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology 30, 245-320.
In 1995 Oliver Kent found waste material in two areas:
NGR ST 62327292: Redevelopment work uncovered a quantity of biscuit ware and kiln furniture.  Forms included distinctive chargers with wide rims, mugs, bowls and drug-jars apparently dating from the second half of the 17th century.
(HER no. 20217).
NGR ST 62217277: A deposit of kiln waste was found on the east slope of the valley of the Brislington Brook. This appeared to date to the second half of the 17th century.
(HER no. 20215).

See the Dissertation section of this website for a full report on the waste pottery and kiln furniture found during the excavation of a garden pond at 30 Wootton Road in 1975 (NGR ST 62327283).  In summary, the dump of material covered at least 6 square metres and was up to 20 centimetres thick.  The types of wares recovered included plates, dishes, bowls, bowls with lobed handles, cups, mugs, albarello-type containers, storage vessels, jugs, a flower vase and salts. Kiln furniture consisted of saggars, girders and trivets. One hundred and ten sherds are illustrated. It is argued that the group may be dated to the last quarter of the 17th century.

It has been suggested by Oliver Kent that most of the tin-glazed waste found in Brislington is re-deposited (Medieval Pottery Research Group Newsletter 18, September 2016, pages 2-3).  My own research also indicates that this is the case.  Kent goes on to suggest that the presence of Agate ware and red earthenwares show that production continued at this site into the 18th century.

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