Our Museum Feature, Old Moreton Hall, is one of many collections of Series Ware that Royal Doulton produced in celebration of people, places, events, and literature significant to British history. Queen Elizabeth I visited Old Moreton Hall, sometimes called “Little Moreton Hall,” in 1589. A magnificent 16th century half-timbered manor house in Cheshire, just north of the Staffordshire Potteries, where the Royal Doulton Burslem factory is located, the building is now owned by the National Trust. The first sections of the house were built about 1450 by Sir Richard de Moreton, and the manor remained in the hands of the Moreton family for nearly five centuries.
At the center of the Old Moreton Hall plate is a scene depicting members of her court following Queen Elizabeth I as she enters Moreton Hall on the arm of a courtier, in all likelihood, Sir Francis Drake (note the presence of the court jester just over Drake’s shoulder). At the verge of the plate (the verge is the area where the plate merges with the rim) is an acanthus-leaf border, with the inscription at the top of the border, “Queen Elizabeth at Old Moreton 1589.” The design on the rim of the plate cleverly replicates the half-timber architecture and windows of the manor house. Pieces in the pattern are transfer-printed, with details painted by hand.
The year of the event, repeated in the backstamp of the Old Moreton Hall pieces, is of great historical import. In 1589 Sir Francis Drake, as admiral, and Sir John Norreys, as general, commanded a fleet of ships and men that struck the coast of Spain. The English sought to press home the advantage they gained after the near-destruction of the Spanish Armada by battle and storm in 1588. The campaign in 1589, however, was a failure for the English. Drake’s fleet was forced to withdraw, with heavy losses of both men and ships, and the English conflict with Spain would drag on until 1604.
The teapot in the collection depicts Queen Elizabeth I in procession outside Moreton Hall (note the young footmen bearing the canopy that shades the queen). The creamer shows ladies in period dress. The scene on the side of the sugar bowl with lid depicts revelers dancing, and on the opposite side of the sugar bowl (not shown in the image) sits a hapless man in stocks, perhaps as punishment for too much dancing! Royal Doulton introduced this delightful line of Series Ware in 1915. Old Moreton Hall was taken out of production in 1933.
Royal Doulton was founded in 1815, when John Doulton, then working as a “thrower” at Fulham Pottery Co., London, partnered with John Watts to create a new pottery house, Doulton and Watts, which eventually relocated to the town of Lambeth. While they produced pots, jugs, pitchers, and bowls, the company was primarily known for its production of large vessels for storing industrial materials. Over the years John Doulton’s sons, who had joined their father in the management of the business, eventually formed companies of their own. But turmoil in the British financial markets forced the businesses to dissolve. In 1853 they reformed as Doulton and Co. Although patriarch John Doulton died in 1873, the company continued to grow and expand. While Doulton and Co. produced industrial materials throughout the second half of the 19th century, there was growing emphasis on the production of quality household ceramics. In 1901, King Edward VII conferred upon Doulton and Co. the honor of a Royal Warrant for the company’s production of ceramic vessels holding porous stones that successfully filtered pollutants from the water of the Thames River, London’s primary source for drinking water. With the issue of the Royal Warrant, “Doulton and Co.” became “Royal Doulton.” The company began producing many collectible items, including character jugs, figurines, and of course, Series Ware.
While the Royal Doulton Old Moreton Hall pieces in our Museum are not for sale, Replacements, Ltd. has a very limited number of other pieces in the pattern available for purchase, and a wide variety of other Royal Doulton patterns. Be sure to browse our web site. And remember that we always invite you to visit our facilities! Here you’ll find a stunning variety of silver, china, crystal, and collectibles! Our Showroom and Museum are open from 9:00am to 7:00pm ET, 7 days a week (except holidays); free tours are available from 10:00am to 6:00pm ET, 7 days a week. The Showroom and Museum are conveniently located between Greensboro and Burlington, NC, at exit 132 off Interstate 85/40. We look forward to seeing you!