Christmas and New Year!

Small engraved Christmas dish by Wally Cole c 1960

So we have finally arrived, last parcels sent off  and the last kiln fired!

Our shop will be open until 3.00pm on  Friday December 23rd 2011 and then we are closed until Tuesday January 3rd.

We would like to thank all our Rye enthusiasts for continuing to support us, and we wish you all, wherever you are in the world, a happy and enjoyable Christmas and a healthy and peaceful 2012.







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Wedding anniversaries

Rye Pottery's Prince Regent designed by Neal French

The Prince Regent or Prinny as he was sometimes known

Years ago we were asked by Brighton Pavilion to produce a pair of Regency figures based on some of their wonderfully vicious James Gillray cartoons.One of the figures was The Prince Regent and the other was Maria Fitzherbert.

Rye Pottery's Mrs Maria Fitzherbert designed by Neal French

Mrs Maria Fitzherbert

Their unrecognised morganatic marriage took place on 15th December 1785, but sadly, despite his genuine love for her, his increasing debts and extravagance meant  he had to to agree to King George III’s terms and in 1795 he  married his cousin Princess Caroline of Brunswick.

This royal alliance was  a disaster from day one, resulting in an official separation a year later, and producing such dislike on both sides that as George IV in 1820 he even forbade her admittance to his Coronation.

>> You can find out more about them both by clicking this link which will take you to the Royal Pavilion’s website.

>> Or to see more pictures of the actual figures themselves, click here

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Our poor kiln here is working so hard it hardly has time to cool between being unpacked and repacked and switched on again.

For safety reasons the kiln is on the ground floor here, but the heat comes up through the floor boards and keeps my feet pleasantly warm. The other useful byproduct of firing the kiln is that over the years it has caused the floor boards to warp a little so that customers simply cannot come in and out without us hearing – so much easier than keeping a dog to bark at them!

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Panic stations for December

So December has arrived and the cold weather with it, our fingers are well crossed that we do not have a  repeat  of the cold and snow of last December.

The general feeling of panic and chaos in our building would no doubt keep us warm however cold it was outside,  as we frantically try and make sure that we have all the right figures for the last minute mail order customers, who  somehow over the years, have never quite understood that in a small pottery it is not always feasible to carry large numbers of every single piece we produce.  We hate to upset or disappoint any customer,so we work very hard to second guess all the last minuters,  but sometimes it just is not possible. So if you are one of the unlucky would- be -buyers, we apologise in advance. Why not give them an IOU and we will send it in January as a pick-me- up for the post Christmas blues?

Rye has now switched on the Christmas Tree lights  and on Saturday 10th  Father Christmas is arrving at Rye Station with his reindeer and then will be  driving around Rye to the Christmas Market on the Strand Quay to hear the Victorian carol singers !

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Christmas Decorations!

It is the last week of November and we finally managed to remember where we had  put the Christmas decorations last January!  June & Betty  had a very busy day  sorting everything out  and we are now as festive as the proverbial Christmas robin. As usual the moment we started to dismantle the previous window display we had a a run of customers  all wanting to buy  something fron the things we were carefully putting away. This  had been a seaside theme, using our various  donkey figures with or without riders, along with The Netmenders and The Fisherman’s Tale.

To add a little scale to the nautical scene, we had included some very nice nesting boxes made from reclaimed wood and modelled on the iconic  Hastings  black timber fishing sheds, which  are sold by our son Josh via  his on line shop  and suddenly from no sales of the boxes in 2 months we found we had sold  all five of  them  as we tried to pack them  away!

With our  windows now shining and twinkling we are all set for Rye’s Christmas Festival which starts on December 3rd with  the switching on of the Lights and the High Street Christmas Tree followed by a firework display.

More about the Rye Christmas Festival plans next week.

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Rye’s weekend of classic cars



Every November Rye hosts a spectacular Classic Car event.

This year in warm sunshine, the  carefully preserved and polished cars with drivers and passengers similarly shining and glowing, processed around the town before lining up to be judged by the Mayor of Rye, the winners receiving a hand painted Rye Pottery plate to mark the occasion.







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Potting as pain or pleasure

Listening to the Today programme this morning while  potter/ author Edmund De Waal was being interviewed, we were delighted to hear him describe potting as “A tremendous art which we should all take seriously.”  It is always amazing and indeed rather off putting to be told by a customer looking at a one-off hand painted pot or tile ” Ooh that is very expensive”  while telling you of the lovely “art print” they have just  bought for a much larger sum of money! We have always felt that not only is a pot just as beautiful as a painting,  it often has the additional advantage that you can use it as well as look at it.

Here at Rye Pottery we produce a considerable number of one offs at, what we think, are remarkably low prices, especially when you have just opened the kiln to find that 3 or 4 pieces have decided to shatter during the firing cycle.  The flip side of the coin is the joy and excitement that opening a good kiln brings to all of us. Better than Christmas – is how Wally Cole used to describe handling a newly fired perfect pot which had come through its ordeal of  fire with the final result excelling anything you could have possibly imagined.  De Waal perhaps should have added this morning, that Potting is also a disease for which there seems to be no known immunisation!

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A Mid-Century Rye Pottey Cassic – Miss Simplicity

Miss-Simplicity-bottles-b-w-Small-150x200We’ve been looking on the web and spotted there’s one of our popular Mid-Century Classics for sale on ebay – a vintage MISS SIMPLICITY bottle. These bottles in 2 sizes were originally used for Oil and Vinegar.

They were designed by Wally’s brother Jack Cole in the early-mid 1950’s, not as stated in the text for the one for sale on ebay, by Marjorie Cole. Marjorie was Jack’s wife and she produced some very collectable Pottery dolls in the 50’s – just not this one!

A very, very few were made and production had stopped by the early 60s, but we have traced about 20 of these very charming one-offs. Sadly Marjorie in later years destroyed any she could lay her hands on. Miss Simplicity Sm Rye Pottery 2011Jack did not really like his Miss Simplicity, (we have this in a letter on file in the archive) but despite his artistic misgivings she was without doubt a very popular piece at the time and still with collectors today.

We recently rediscovered the long-forgotten moulds for Miss S while trawling through our Mid-Century archives. We’ve been working on plans to revitalise and refresh some of our classic pieces and designs from this period, and Miss Simplicity is such a favourite for us that she’s certain to be part of that. So far, we’ve decided she will be reborn in the 21st Century with a fixed head that faces in a different direction! Next up is the decoration development stage. To the right you can see some samples we’ve been working on – absolute one-offs that a handful of collectors have been lucky enough to snap up in our shop in Rye.

But there are lots more decoration ideas we’re working on, so watch this space, because her outfit’s not finalised yet. When we decide on the first design to officially enter production we’ll be sure to let you know here.

If you want to be one of the first to find out when Miss Simplicity is available to buy, visit our shop in Rye every, single day … or alternatively just sign up for our newsletter at the top right corner of the site.

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Rye has a special feel in November, like a great many East Sussex towns and villages it has a thriving Bonfire Society  whose hardworking members stage a flaming torch lit procession around the town, with a magnificent  firework display and huge bonfire  down on The Salts-this year’s date is Saturday 11th.

The whole day has a special excitement with the scent of smoke & darkness  and members of other Bonfire Societies marching around the town most of the day in full costume. Rye’s tradition goes way back beyond Guy Fawkes to medieval  days when our local  fishermen and their opposite numbers across the Channel in France were continuously raiding each other and setting fire to the fishing boats. There is always a “ Burning boat” bringing up the rear of the procession to this day, though its more mundane task now is to collect the burnt out torches. Grown-up children who have long moved away from Rye make a point of trying to be back for Bonfire Night.

>> To find out more visit the Rye & District Bonfire Society website here!

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Vintage Sussex Pigs

Vintage Sussex Pigs

Today (31st October 2011) Tarquin has been asked to help identify an early 20thcentury “Sussex Pig” for a collector, but the consensus from all the local experts was that it was nothing to do with Rye. Too many things did not match up, colour of the glaze, the lettering technique and of course no basemark at all. It looked as if it was cast from a mould so beware there could be more about!

Note to the wary: Pre war Sussex Pigs were all thrown by hand & not made in a mould.

Here at Rye Pottery we do not reproduce pre-war pieces and any post-war designs we do introduce always have our current Rye Pottery mark, or “back stamp” as we call it in the trade, to make sure there can be no confusion.

>> We hope one day to add more about the various marks used to identify Rye Pottery in the future, but in the meantime, click here to find out how our backstamp and initialling systems work – both now and in years past.

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More from October

We had a wonderful  family outing yesterday. We went up to the King’s Head in Islington to see our son Josh Cole who is in Kvetch, which is running there until November 4. Lovely as ex-Londoners to be back there even if only for half a day, the weather was perfect, but seeing all the shops full of Hallowe’en things did make us quite glad that witches, ghouls and ghosties are all a bit spiky and not really suited to our sort of pottery! We think we will stick with October 25 marking  611 years since Geoffrey Chaucer died.

>> You can read some of the reviews and book tickets here.

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OCTOBER seems to be a month full of important dates for Rye Pottery.  First The Battle of Hastings to remember on the 14th while  October 21st  is the  Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805,  as a former naval officer Tarquin  felt Rye had to have its own  NELSON figure to mark the 200th anniversary in 2005!, Last but not least October 25 1400 marks the death of GEOFFREY CHAUCER.  Chaucer should be remembered not only for his wonderful literature including THE  CANTERBURY TALES,   he was also Clerk of the Works to Richard 11 from 1389  and as such he is thought to have been responsible for the building of Westminster Hall;  he is the first poet to be buried in Westminster Abbey.

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Rye Pottery - Bayeux Tapestry Collection - William the Conqueror



Today is the Anniversary of the Battle of Hastings in 1066, I wonder how many figures in our Bayeux Tapestry series we will have to mark the 950th Anniversary in 2016!

>>  This is an ongoing series with new pieces to be added in regularly, to take a look at the current beautiful figures in our Bayeux collection click here.

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Japanese Television

I wish you could have seen us here last Friday, we had a Japanese TV crew making a travel documentary about  South East England.  They had already visited the Hop Farm and Museum in Paddock Wood  and were due to take a ride on the Bluebell Railway later that day. They were all very enthusiastic and loved Rye and our Pottery

I spoke direct to camera  in short sound bites, which could be translated later, ending by inviting their viewers to be sure to vist Rye Pottery and Rye. It took 3 takes for them to be happy while I felt more and more stilted with each retake so hope it will sound reasonable when it  is finally shown. Fortunately they also took some lovely shots of Jane Davies glazing and painting a Rye Rabbit . Jane was of course lucky enough to have something useful to do with her hands while they filmed her, unlike me who was  filmed  just  standing in our shop with our wonderful medieaval wall as a back drop.

They have promised us a copy once it is all edited.  So fingers crossed!


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More pages go live!

We are adding new pages in all the time and trying to ensure there is plenty of information about the Rye Pottery range for you to find without too much hassle. Please let us know what you think we love to hear from you.

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New Website & an update of some of our latest pottings!

Some of you will have struggled to find us over the past weeks while we have been having our new website sorted out!  We are here and working even if off the radar for a short while,  so please contact us if you need us (click here) Meanwhile I am doing my best to put all our pottery back on to this lovely new site! I am sure you will eventually find it simpler to navigate and hopefully full of interesting things about  all our Rye Pottery ranges. Update: end of September: with help from our daughter Tabby we have finally sorted out the cut off heads and now have put the complete Canterbury Tales pages up on the website. Please do have a look while we go on looking for all the other pre digital pictures for some of the other pages. We are getting very excited as we work through each group and hope you will enjoy the new-look Rye Pottery as much we as do

Vintage Rye Pottery Vases

During the long damp summer June Woolley who retired in 1998 after 45 years, has been back in the attics peering through our amazing archive, not least the from the Mid Century. The result of all  this activity means that we have some  really exciting one-offs in the shop – early 1950’s patterns painted by June onto vases and bowls.

So not only are we one of the few country potteries still in existence today who were selected to show in one of the pavilions of the Festival of Britain, here 60 years on are some of those same  patterns.

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Rye Pottery in the Mail on Sunday

Mail on Sunday

Biddy has just been interviewed for a piece in this weekend’s Mail on Sunday about William and Kate’s imminent nuptials.

Rye Pottery has been producing commemorative pieces to mark every Royal occasion since the Prince of Wales’s investiture in 1969 – and the upcoming Royal Wedding is no exception.Rye Pottery in the Mail on Sunday - 24th April 2011

While not everyone is lucky enough to have British manufacturers flurrying to produce a host of products to commemorate their special dates, here at Rye Pottery we produce beautiful one-off designs and pieces for personal and corporate special occasions – weddings, christenings, even just plain old Thank You’s! Every piece is individually hand-made, hand-lettered and decorated to order.

Click the following link to visit our shop and see some examples  of our Bespoke Ceramics.

Or click here to read Biddy’s Interview with the Mail on Sunday


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