Blue and white china in Spalding museum

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A regular column from Spalding Gentlemen’s Society Museum in Broad Street, Spalding.

This month I’ve been looking at blue and white china in the collections, writes Patricia Buck.

There’s so much one can learn from the artefacts and literature in the museum. Apparently the birthplace of English porcelain was the Bow Porcelain Factory which operated in the mid-18th century, manufacturing ‘soft-paste’ porcelain.

Oh, and the phrase ‘bone china’ comes from the fact that they actually used bone ash in the manufacturing process. The amount of bone and the temperature of the firing will affect the shade of blue achieved on the blue and white pieces as well as the clarity of the pattern and the quality of the finished product.

Experiments to find ways of manufacturing bone china as good as that of the Chinese, Dutch or French, for example, went on all over the UK. Each factory having its own recipe. By the last quarter of the 18th century Ambrose Gallimore and Thomas Turner at their factory in Caughley, Shropshire produced some of the finest soft-paste porcelain made in England.

An oven which is used for firing glazed pottery is called a ‘glost oven’ and the Caughley glost oven was not excessively hot. This helped with the consistent good quality finish and clarity of the blue and white.

Taking a while to study these items makes you appreciate not only their beauty and the achievements they represent, but also the things we take for granted around our homes and table today.

• Our next Museum and Library Open Sunday will be on February 21. If you would like a guided tour then contact us. Individuals and parties welcome by arrangement. Email sgsinfo@btconnect.com or telephone us on 01775 724658.