Tyntesfield, Somerset – The Plant Pots

Tyntesfield, just outside Bristol was acquired by the National Trust in 2002. Built in the 1860s by the Gibbs family it was largely funded by a trade in South American bird guano as fertiliser. The house and estate was in poor condition when the Trust took it on and included a large private chapel, farm buildings, cottages, stables, an orangery and a walled garden.  

Whichford Pottery and tree ferns at the entrance to the walled garden at Tyntesfield

 

This is not meant to be a geeky plant pot spotter post incidentally! Nonetheless plant pots were a major element in the production of our small local potteries in the 19th and early 20th century and they can be quite beautiful in their honest simplicity. I love the rough and ready ones and I wish we knew more about where they came from and who made them. 

A few years ago when the walled garden was in a sufficiently revived state to open to the public we noticed that the place had quite a collection of old plant pots. Some large ones with ornamental shrubs in bore the stamp of the Royal Potteries in Weston-super-Mare. Other smaller marked pots were clattering about in the farmyard which forms the centre of the cafe/shop/entrance. I have been meaning to go back and photograph some of them for ages and finally got round to it at the weekend. The marked pots seem to have largely disappeared but the greenhouses and the potting sheds have lots of nice pots. The NT has also been adding to the stock of larger shapes with new pieces from Jim Keeling’s Whichford Pottery.    

     
Many of the smaller pots are fairly recent and include a lot of pressed ones and ones with the rouletted Sankey Bulwell mark. Amongst them are a wide variety of older and more local pots of which the vast majority are unmarked. In the greenhouses there are some Royal Potteries ones and in the walled garden itself several tall waisted rhubarb pots the like of which I haven’t seen before. The pots are easiest to see on the greenhouse staging and I found a few with distinctive rouletted decoration.   

A post-war mould-made Sankey Bulwell pot from Nottingham in one of the greenhouses.

 

Three unusual rhubarb forcers in the walled garden at Tyntesfield. The fourth is a converted plant pot .

  

Older pots amongst those in the greenhouses include examples from the Royal Potteries in Weston-super-Mare.

  

A thrown pot from the Royal Potteries in Weston-super-Mare

  

The more distinctive hand-made pots include some with distinctive rouletted decoration. Two examples below.

    

  

These two big planters are presumably Whichford although the patina on them makes them look much older.

  
 

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