17th-Century Kiln Reconstruction at Little Woodham, Hampshire

Roger Harris, the potter at the 1642 Living History Village at Little Woodham outside Gosport in Hampshire has been building a reconstruction of a 17th-century Barnstaple-type kiln for a while now. On the 2nd of August David Dawson and I were invited down to  observe, advise and join in. He has based the kiln fairly closely on the one that we built in 2001 at the Plimoth Plantation museum in Massachusetts – we provided our plans and drawing for him to work from.


Roger Harris (right) and his assistant (sorry I forgot his name) checking the door seal on the Little Woodham kiln early in the firing.

The kiln is built of brick and insulated with soil. It is a bit shorter than ours – Roger is concerned that he can make enough work to fill it. The outer facing is a unique wooden construction rather than brick or stone. We generally follow the Barnstaple model and use stone. The wooden frame is strong but the front is going to burn off at some point.


The kiln door of brick sealed with clay. David Dawson with Kevin Akhurst of the Southern Pottery Group and Roger Harris.

The Village is a delightful group of well built timber buildings and has a range of crafts going on including a blacksmith shop as well as a tavern. The volunteers are very enthusiastic and include a group of costumed children who evidently enjoy themselves immensely. It’s a real surprise, not least because it is hidden behind a modern housing estate opposite the HMS Sultan naval base.


The main street at Little Woodham 1642 Living History Village, Gosport.

The firing went very well reaching 800C in seven hours although it them became obstinate. The relationship between the firebox and the chamber floor is awkward and the fuel was clogging against an obstruction in both boxes. Nonetheless a few modifications and it should fire well.

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Roger’s workshop next to the kiln is kitted out with a momentum wheel and nestles in the wood. He has an enviable relationship with the local foxes who sent most of the day circling us and watching us working. Roger has named them and Willow was prepared to scrounge a sausage from him whilst we stoked.


Roger Harris’s workshop at Little Woodham


Roger Harris’s momentum wheel at Little Woodham


This entry was posted in Archaeology, Bickley Ceramics Project, Experimental Archaeology, Folk and Country Pottery, Kilns and Kiln-building and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 17th-Century Kiln Reconstruction at Little Woodham, Hampshire

  1. Flannery Lawrence says:

    Hi Dr. Kent,
    I could not find your email address so I hope it is alright that I contact you here. I am a historical-archaeologist-in-training and my uncle is an enthusiast with experience in archaeological excavations in Southern Maryland. We live right down the road from Historic St. Mary’s City, the first capital of Maryland that was colonized in 1634. One way or another the idea of building a 17th century kiln reconstruction came to us. It started mostly as a joke but now I’ve gotten pretty attached to the idea. I came across this blog and your work at the Plimoth Plantation in my preliminary research and thought you might be able to push us in the right direction. If you have any recommendations of where to start or what to read or anything at all, please let me know.
    Flannery Lawrence


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