Bowl and cover

This bowl and cover was created by Robert Fishley in 1844. Robert was born in 1808, the second son of George Fishley.

George Fishley established a long lasting dynasty of potters, opening a pottery at Fremington, North Devon in 1811. Over the decades members of the Fishley family were renowned for their ceramic work. Born at Instow, just west of Fremington, in 1770, George brought up his three sons to become potters themselves. In 1839 Edmund took over the pottery and was eventually succeeded by George’s grandson Edwin Beer Fishley in 1860. Edwin continued the business until his death in 1912, when his grandson William Fishley Holland moved the pottery from Fremington to Braunton. From 1921, William worked from Clevedon in Somerset, continuing the family tradition well into the middle of the 20th century.

During the early period, the family produced everyday ware and ornamental goods, selling most of its wares locally.  The natural imagery we see depicted here reflects the rural community that the Fremington Pottery served: an agricultural population who would have appreciated a rich harvest and abundance of nature. However Fremington pots were also traded outside of Devon; many of the items travelled across the sea to Cornwall and other to South Wales by way of returning coal boats. Ceramic wares were loaded onto boats at the nearby quayside on the River Taw, a place so frequently used for pottery business that it became known as ‘Fishley’s Quay’.

Fremington offered a rich supply of red clay to form the bodies of pots. Local river gravel was mixed into the clay to strengthen it and improve the durability of utilitarian ware. Imported from Wales, galena or lead sulphide was used as a glaze over the pot’s surface to give a golden yellow colour.

North Devon pottery is classified as earthenware – a form of pottery made throughout pre-industrial England. This bowl and cover consists of an ovoid earthenware body. A brown fabric forms the base with a cream fabric for the decoration. A green tinted glazed was added on top. The domed cover features a fruit cluster finial, whilst two lug type handles were attached to the body.

Modelled in relief on the main body is an assortment of grapes, fruit clusters, swans and leaves, each with incised and impressed details. Thistles and leaves are depicted on the base. The maker’s mark was incised onto the foot: R. Fishley Fremington Pottery June 22nd 1844.
Accession Loan No.
Collection Class
British ceramics
Common Name
bowl and cover
Simple Name
bowl and cover
Full Name
bowl and cover
whole height 300 mm
Production Person Surname
Production Person Initials
Period Classification
Victorian (1837-1901)
Production Date
Production Year Low
Production Year High
Production Town
Production County
N. Devon
Production Country
United Kingdom: England
Production Area Region
Northern Europe
Production Continent
Family Group


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