Further Lines Of Enquiry In Townsend Meadow


In the last post I featured the clay tobacco pipe gleanings that I’ve been picking up from Townsend Meadow, the broken stems and bowls of pipes discarded by haymakers, harvesters and ploughmen of times past. Or dropped by lime burners, tanners and quarrymen on their way to restore lost bodily fluids in one of Wenlock’s many inns. But there’s another explanation too, and this could also account for the pot shards I’ve been finding in the field. Up until the not too distant past, broken domestic items were usually thrown into farm cesspits, privies and middens. Later they would end up spread over the fields, mixed in with manure.


My trek across the field follows a broadly similar route, give or take a metre or two. These shards are all separate finds, though not found too far apart, and I think they could belong to the same dish. My trawl on the internet tells me these are examples of comb decorated slipware. Once they would have made a broadly rectangular loaf or baking dish of a type common in the late 18th century. Very handsome pots in fact.



The shards with the yellow swirly pattern on a dark ground are also from slipware loaf dishes made in the late 18th century. They come in round and rectangular versions. You can see stunning examples of these and other English pots at the John Howard Gallery.


Line Squares #29

26 thoughts on “Further Lines Of Enquiry In Townsend Meadow

    1. They certainly did. There seem to have been more clay pipe works in this area than was usually the case across the country – but then there would have been plenty of trade along the Severn. And lots of packhorse trade besides. And plenty of hardworking chaps puffing on their pipes.

  1. What a great find Tish. The colours and patterns are gorgeous— and reminiscent of some NZ-made tableware that was really popular on the 1970s. Guess I know where the idea came from now. 😀

  2. You’re going to think I only have one thing on my mind, but they remind me for all the world of those biscuits with the icing on top and a chevron pattern. 🙂 🙂 Just saying….
    Funny old field you’ve got there, Tish.

  3. Another stunner. What finds and what lovely pattern-bits. I used to love turning up shards in my childhood yards – often bits with willow pattern design. A mural in my daughter’s town, representing its history, includes such fragments, of china rather than earthenware.

    1. Hello Meg. Now you’ve mentioned it, I’m surprised I’ve not spotted any ‘blue & white’ shards. The willow pattern in all its variations was used extensively by the early pot and porcelain works in the area. I once worked on a job creation project at our Coalport China Works Museum (down by the river a few miles from Wenlock) sorting masses of waster shards from the works spoil midden and trying to reconstruct the different transfer print ‘willow’ patterns. Was rather fascinated how Chinese pagodas/temples started morphing into village churches set in more English landscapes.

  4. You’ve taken me back years to digging up my first few fragments of pottery in the school playground. It was so exciting, even though I doubt it was anything as interesting as these ones.

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