An Experimental Pottery Kiln in Gestingthorpe, Essex. 

Gestingthorpe and the neighbouring villages – Castle Heddingham, Sible Heddingham and Sudbury – have a lot of ceramic history in proportion to their size. The landscape is marked with clay names and clay pits. The area is famous for bricks in particular but has produced pottery too in the past. The Art Potter Edward Bingham had his pottery at Castle Heddingham in the late 19th century and in the Bulmer Brick and Tile Company played host to Sam Haile, Marianne de Trey and Mary Gibson Horrocks in the 1940s and early 50s.

The Gestingthorpe History Group includes a number of people with ceramic interests and skills and they have built a wood-fired updraught kiln using their knowledge gained from archaeology, from experience working at the Bulmer brickworks and from a copy of Fred Olsen’s ‘The Kiln Book.’ The core team are Andy Craig, Michael Hogan, Peter Hogan and Chris Moulton.

IMG_0258

IMG_0260

IMG_0251

The kiln is built into the slope for insulation using wasters from the Bulmer brickworks and any others that come to hand. It’s is a brick length thick and reinforced with am extra skin on the outer face. The open topped form follows the examples in Olsen. The ware-chamber floor has been beautifully made by bricklayers Mike and Peter Hogan – a small dome flattened on top to take the floor itself which has eight flues oriented around the firebox to distribute the flame as evenly as possible.

IMG_0242

IMG_0255

The result is a kiln that has a lot in common with the designs that we have used in reconstructing early post-medieval kilns from the South West at Bickley.

IMG_0279

IMG_0282

The area is renowned for its bricks and its complex geology means that there are a wide range of different clays available. The potters have been collecting samples and making are firing pots with them. There are a lot of variables but the range of colour suggests possible links especially to the local Roman archaeology. There is a villa/industrial settlement only a short distance from the kiln site.

There is more on the project on the East Anglian website and on the  Gestingthorpe History Group Facebook page

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Archaeology, Architectural Ceramics, Experimental Archaeology, Kilns and Kiln-building and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to An Experimental Pottery Kiln in Gestingthorpe, Essex. 

  1. Frank L Wood says:

    Interesting article. As an ex-potter, I love your use of local clays and the resultant range of pots. The kiln is great; wish I could visit Gestingthorpe, but it’s a long way from Hereford!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s