Tablescape in gilt


In these post-pandemic days we have never seen so much interest in "tablescaping": the setting of a beautiful table to serve food to your friends and loved ones. If you've been following me for a while you'll know that I have always have a weakness for beautiful tableware, and I love nothing more than to find a good home for an English porcelain dessert service.


Dinner parties

The Dogs Dinner Party, a famous 19thC children's illustration

Dinner parties became a huge rage in the late 18th and early 19th Century, thanks to, on the one hand, people being able to make their homes so much more comfortable, and on the other hand some great improvements in the art of gardening, allowing the wealthy to grow all kinds of wonderful fruits and vegetables in their walled gardens and greenhouses.


a formal 18thC dinner party

With porcelain becoming more affordable and people having more disposable income, tableware became a huge fashion. Usually the dinner service was quite simple, but it was for dessert that people splashed out on outrageously beautiful services - after all it is the dessert that is most remembered, and it is also when a bit of wine will have loosened the tongues 🍷 Sometimes a service was bought just to be used once or twice over a lifetime - although I have got many services that clearly have had many years of careful use.


Bloor Derby dessert service

Today I am showing an absolutely stunning set of plates made by Bloor Derby between 1820 and 1825. Each plate is unique: every Neoclassical gilt rim is different, and the centre of each plate is painted with a gorgeous display of precious fruits by the famous painter Thomas Steele. Steele was seen as the master of fruit painting, and you can see why: every piece of fruit looks real and succulent, and there is no end to the original ways Steele has arranged the tableaux.


Serving vessels

I've paired this with equally outrageous gilded serving items made by Coalport around the same time. Two huge ice pails, which were used to keep fruit or ice cream cool; these ice pails are richly decorated in the famous "Church Gresley" pattern. The other pair of vessels are Coalport sauce tureens, which were used to serve cream or fruit sauce with the ice cream or fruits and cakes. The sauce tureens are in the famous "Marguess of Anglesey" pattern, which was first made by Nantgarw for the Marquess, and then became very popular with additions made by Swansea and Coalport.


Flatware and glass

The flatware is from a different period (and not for sale): from the arts & crafts era in the 1880s with beautifully engraved silver plate and nice bone handles surfaced like sticks. And the glassware I found in Italy (if you like it, feel free to ask as I can get some more). And the flowers? I picked them in the wild, something I love doing 💐


Stunning, or what? The plates, ice pails and tureens are for sale... and if this is more than you planned to spend, you can find more modest sets (some of which are priced down this week!) and single plates in my shop - or perhaps you have some really nice dishes stashed away somewhere in a cupboard that are asking to be brought out!


Where to find things

You can find all my dessert services here,