It focuses on the major pottery industry of the late medieval and Tudor periods centred on the borders between Surrey and Hampshire. One of the most versatile, vibrant and innovative ceramic traditions in southern England is revealed through close re-examination of the finds from excavations carried out by Felix Holling on the site of Farnborough Hill Convent between 1968 and 1972.
The remains of four pottery kilns were uncovered, together with considerable quantities of production waste. The project was the inspiration of Kevin Fryer, recently retired from Guildford Museum, and was born of a long-held desire to bring to publication this important pottery production site that had been languishing in the museum’s archive stores since the 1970s.
After successfully raising the necessary funding to proceed, the finds were initially sorted at Guildford by a team of volunteers under Kevin Fryer’s supervision and transported to Eagle Wharf Road where Tony Grey and Jacqui Pearce began work on a programme of detailed recording and analysis.
Several visits to museums in Surrey and Hampshire were required to record and draw some of the more complete and displayable pots recovered during the excavation, with the continued co-operation and help of staff at Guildford Museum, where most of the photography was also carried out.
As an exercise in active collaboration with museums holding archaeological collections outside London the project proved to be extremely successful. It also provided a very valuable opportunity to re-examine material excavated some 40 years ago and to rescue from archival oblivion a site of great importance in English ceramic history.
Border wares were a mainstay of London’s pottery supply and of considerable importance in the economy of the region, and these kilns provide crucial evidence for the transition from the late medieval coarseware tradition to the fully developed production of the early modern period, exemplifying what has been called the ‘ceramic revolution’ of the 16th century.
This study looks at the wares, the forms and the potters, manufacturing, external influences and trade, presenting fascinating new evidence for the wealth of varied influences that stimulated the phenomenal growth of the Surrey-Hampshire border ware industry in the Tudor period.