I have written about the New Hall porcelain factory before - but as I was getting some new stock in, it struck me, yet again, how diverse their output was. So I thought it is worth writing a bit more about it.
New Hall has a very interesting and unusual background. It all started with William Cookworthy and Richard Champion in Plymouth. Cookworthy was a minister, pharmacist and general tinkerer, who realised that the local clay in Cornwall was suitable for making porcelain. He didn't rest until he had perfected a beautiful hard paste porcelain body and today there are still a few very hard-to-get Plymouth pieces in the market.
The factory wasn't successul, though. Champion, who was the businessman of the two, took the recipe to a new factory in Bristol, where he also didn't manage to compete with the cheaper soft paste porcelain that was produced at various British factories. When this Bristol factory collapsed, however, Champion knew he possessed something that was more valuable than a factory: the only hard paste porcelain recipe Britain ever had. He went to nearby Staffordshire, where there were hundreds of earthenware factories, but no knowledge about the production of porcelain.
In 1781, Champion managed to get a handful of enterprising earthenware makers together who formed a collective and bought the licence to use his hard paste recipe. The Staffordshire men soon realised that the hard paste recipe was too expensive to produce commercially successful porcelain from, so now it was their turn to do some tinkering and they changed a few things. They reduced the temperature of the second stage of firing, and so saved themselves money on the expensive coal needed to fuel the kilns. This is what we now call "hybrid hard paste" porcelain: a beautiful light, thin and greyish porcelain, perfect for Chinese-type decorations and fine teaware.
After moving around several factories, New Hall found a permanent home in Shelton, next to the Shelton Hall factory. So they called themselves Shelton New Hall, which soon became New Hall. The factory had started its life as a collective, using various kilns and groups of workers, which resulted in an unusually diverse output and this would always remain the hallmark of this important factory.
The British public, in the meantime, loved the greyish porcelain produced by New Hall, because it was more similar to the Chinese hard paste porcelain they were used to, and it was very suitable for the East Asian decorations that many customers were still fond of. The newly fashionable bone china porcelain painted with English garden flowers was not to everyone's liking; many thought it newfangled and preferred the more conservative New Hall wares. So it wasn't until 1814 that New Hall finally embraced bone china and switched its production.
New Hall kept producing bone china until 1835, when the factory disappeared. By that time, it had produced many thousands of styles - usually a step or two behind others. Yet, the craftsmanship and beauty of the New Hall wares is superb, and even though New Hall never came up with new styles, they did their imitations so well that I think it is one of the most interesting factories.
And, after all, it was the brave individuals behind New Hall who brought porcelain to Staffordshire, which was to become the worlds largest producer of bone china only decades later - so they really deserve some praise.
Over the years I have sold lots of New Hall stock and I am always looking out for more pieces... you can find my current pieces all on one page in my shop. Have a look and marvel at the various wonderful patterns and shapes, both in hybrid porcelain and bone china: Chinese style flowers, pure Imari, folksy English flowers, Chinese elephants and river landscapes, proper English roses and even some beautiful refined Neoclassical patterns.
Where to find stock
You can find all my New Hall stock here and you can find all my available items here. If you want to stay up to date with new additions, find me on Instagram, where I put up pictures with a story several times a week.
Happy weekend, and never be afraid to do something new! 🫖🍽☕️
Current New Hall stock: