07 March 2016

LECTURE Pots of Orchids - A Potter and A Plantsman: Spode and Biddulph Grange

I am delighted to have been asked to give the Eighth Annual Archive Ceramics Lecture organised by the Stoke-on-Trent City Archives.

Come and find out about the unexpected connections between a Staffordshire pottery and a Staffordshire plantsman.

Spode plate, 2004, printed from copper plate first produced c1840-1847
All are welcome (booking essential). Here are all the details:

What? 'Pots of Orchids - A Potter and A Plantsman: Spode and Biddulph Grange'. An inspiring story of Spode history with unexpected links to orchids, Biddulph Grange and one of the largest books ever printed.

When? Saturday 9th April 2016 at 11.30am

Where? City Central Library, Bethesda Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent ST1 3RS

Tickets: £5 from Stoke-on-Trent City Archives

How? Email: stoke.archives@stoke.gov.uk or Tel: 01782 238420

My talk focuses on Spode, described as 'Without doubt the most important factory in the 19th century' and James Bateman, orchid enthusiast from his teens. An early 19th century plant hunter who became a respected authority on rare, exotic and newly-discovered orchids. He also created the now famous Biddulph Grange Garden in Biddulph, Staffordshire.

Orchids are now commonplace. In the early 1800s previously unseen orchids were sought after by wealthy, sometimes obsessive collectors, who were prepared to pay huge prices for specimens. 'Orchidelirium' was taking hold in Britain and orchids began to be featured as art, including ceramics from Spode.

One of Bateman's collectors was the Duke of Devonshire of Chatsworth, in whose honour he named a new specimen from South America as Oncidium cavendishianum, or the Duke of Devonshire's Oncidium.
Hand coloured lithograph from Bateman's book: Duke of Devonshire's Oncidium
My talk includes:
  • A little history of the Spode pottery manufactory - from its founder Josiah Spode I to the Copeland family, successors to the Spodes
  • An exploration of botanical influences on Spode designs
Copeland cup c1850-1870, hand painted with orchid from Bateman's book, Chertsey Museum
  • The Spode-Biddulph Grange connections
  • A look at Bateman's huge orchid book of 1837-1843
  • My discovery of fragments of Batemans's now rare book at the Spode factory, its identification and its rescue
  • Designs on Spode pottery from 1800 onwards featuring botanical subjects, specifically orchids
Frontispiece to Bateman's huge orchid book, 1837-1843
To tie in with this event the Stoke-on-Trent City Archives are kindly displaying some specialist archive material for us to look at.

My research also led to a collaboration with Isobyl la Croix, who has deep and extensive knowledge of orchids, as scientist, horticulturist, orchid journal editor, and orchid hunter. This resulted in the publication of articles in the RHS 'Orchid Review' 2005/2006. Details of these can be found by clicking HERE>
Spode's Stafford Flowers pattern Y8519 from 1986
Orchids, now commonplace, £5 each from a supermarket 2016