We’re on Facebook

Well who’d have thought it? 143 years later – Rye Pottery is on Facebook.

Heads are spinning.

Go on click here and give us a “like”, it’s Christmas!

Rye Pottery is on Facebook!
Rye Pottery is on Facebook!



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Christmas Opening Hours & our very own “Pop-Up” shop

We’re extending our opening hours in the run-up to Christmas and we also have a guest appearance in the form of a stylish “pop-up” shop from Josh Cole and his successful online gift company – Green & Present.  (Click here for more).

Everything in Josh’s shop is on its second life – Recycled, Reclaimed or Reused.

Why not “pop in” and have a look – we’re even  open on Sundays at the moment for the first time in umpteen years!

Monday-Thursday 9.00am – 1.oopm and  2.15pm – 5.00pm
Friday & Saturday 9.30am – 5.00pm
Sunday 11.00am  – 4.30pm

If in doubt, do ring us on 01797 223038.

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Christmas – it’s never too late at Rye Pottery

Our First Vouchers!

It is nearly Christmas and we are working our socks off to keep the kiln firing and make sure everything we have promised has gone out in time!

We have this year also been asked for Rye Pottery Gift Vouchers, which we think is an excellent answer to those folk who really have left it too late. Do please call us for one of whatever value you choose and we will be delighted to help.

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Rye Pottery on BBC Radio

Well I fear we are not as quick as the Neapolitan Potter who already has his pregnant Kate & William figure on sale by Wednesday, but we are thinking hard of what designs we will  decide on in due course.

First and foremost though I feel we should all wait a while and give the poor girl time to overcome the dreaded morning sickness. I have huge sympathy with that problem having suffered from it for all of my darling children!

Radio Sussex rang up on Tuesday morning to ask what we would be doing, which caught me on the hop a little, though I am sure we will do one of our collectable small transfer tankards when next June/ July actually comes!

Biddy Cole 

We’ll hope to add the audio of Biddy talking to morning show radio host Danny Pike soon but in the meantime you can listen via the BBC iplayer here.

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November and no Downton Abbey to watch!

So the third Downton Abbey series has finished, what are we all to do I wonder, on dark winter Sunday evenings?  At Rye Pottery we are busy planning all the changes involved in the next Cole generation of Joshua and Tabitha taking over from Tarquin and me.

There will be lots of changes with all their new ideas and energy, but I am very pleased that they still want to go on making the lovely Neal French Country House figures, which fit so well with the Downton Abbey lifestyle.

Elegant and stylish the Rye Golfers, Gardeners and Cook all blend into the Downton story, perhaps in the next series they will even employ a Male Chef rather like our Escoffier Chef!  I was pleased to realise that we already have 2 Rye Cricketers for the anuual Downton versus the village match, though our Batsman and Bowler are from a rather earlier cricketing period they make quite a good match for Mr Carson in his whites I felt!

The Rye Bowler: James Lillywhite  played for Sussex and England, and also had a few games for Rye, before retiring and helping his family found the famous Lillywhites sportswear shop in Piccadilly.

Biddy Cole

Presents for Downton Abbey fans

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The end of a lifetime!

Eileen-Cole-Small-150x200On October 9th Eileen Cole widow of Wally, died in her hundredth year. Tiny – barely 5 foot tall – blonde and very feisty, Eileen was Wally’s strength and support over 30 years at Rye Pottery.  They first met in 1930 as students at Woolwich Art School and never looked back.  During WW2 Eileen, plus small son Tarquin, found digs wherever Wally was posted in England, ending up finally in Farnham while he was with Army Camouflage based at Farnham Castle working on deceptions for the D Day landings.

In 1947 Wally was teaching part time at The Central School &  they moved into a small cottage in Winchelsea (by now with new baby daughter as well as teenage son), this allowed Wally with brother Jack to re-open Rye Pottery. Eileen soon found herself having to make pottery trugs, small vases and silk lampshades as well as manning the “Seconds shop”. After Jack’s retirement in the early 1960’s. they moved in to live over the Pottery and Eileen she took over most of the everlasting paper work as well.  In 1978 although officially retired, Eileen stayed on to man the shop on Saturdays so that Tarquin and Biddy could have week ends with their young family.

Once retired Eileen was able to give more time to her other great love – gardening.  She created a wonderful oasis of cool and calm behind the untidy Pottery development which had grown like Topsy over the years in Ferry Road. Active in Inner Wheel until well into her 90’s,  Eileen always loved a visit from old  friends & customers happy to have a cup of tea and discuss the good old days of Purchase tax and 3 day weeks!   We wish her peace and rest.

Our local paper ran an obituary, which you can read here.

Biddy Cole

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September and at last some real sunshine.

I know that here in the South East, we have been luckier than  a great many areas this summer , at least  since the beginning of August.  We were fortunate to be close to London and obviously benefited from the Olympic sunshine and feel good factor;   Napoleon always asked his prospective generals if they were lucky before he promoted them. We certainly were lucky  to share in Lord Coe’s luck with the weather!

Now we we are all back at work painting pots, firing kilns and making changes and decisions about the future. Keep an eye on this space ~ when we know ourselves we will let you all know too!

Biddy Cole

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Pamela Goddard 1933-2012

Pam Goddard painting Sussex Pigs at Rye Pottery mid 1950's

The late Pam Goddard, painting 1950s Rye Pottery Sussex Pigs

We are just back from a funeral, Pamela Goddard, who worked at the pottery from 1948 until she took early retirement in 1984, died at the beginning of June.

Pam was taken on by Jack and Wally Cole to help with decorating the ever increasing range of pottery they were developing in the early post-war years. The country had been starved of pretty things, but now as long as the pottery was for export they could put patterns everywhere! The home market was still restricted to decoration which only used different coloured clay slips, but export allowed total freedom of expression.Pam worked on the Cottage stripes and all their variations and was involved in the introduction of the very popular Multi floral range of tableware (click here fore more), which was exported both to the United States and to several Northern European countries throughout the 1960’s and 70’s.  From the mid 60’s Pam moved from painting to throwing ware and, as more semi-automatic tableware making machinery was introduced,  she  concentrated mainly on thrown dishes, bowls and jugs.

Her thrown ware is identified by the pressed metal P on the base of her pots, identifying her painted work is more of a problem as Rye Pottery standard ware were patterns that were copied from a master original and pieces were not signed until the initialling of each piece was introduced by the younger Coles in the mid 1990’s.

Biddy Cole

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Midsummer now past

Hard to believe half the year has gone and we are now  running downhill until December.  We seem to have one, or if we are amazingly lucky two,fine days followed by enoromously damaging winds and rain. A poor friend who runs a local nursery said after a while their customers just give up on gardening and decide to leave it all until next year.  We are so lucky that pottery does not go off or turn brown  in the wet and wind, and we have seen a lot of our regular summer visitors from overseas,  though they won’t be having much fun looking at the gardens on the  Kent and Sussex borders, in particular Great Dixter and Sissinghurst, both of which make great outings when spending a few days in Rye.

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June but still raining!

So the Jubilee weekend is over but we are still receiving orders for our mugs so that should keep us busy for a while yet.  Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves despite the weather or maybe, like true Brits, because of the weather!

I was interested to hear another firm –  interviewed  on Radio Sussex  on the same morning as we were – remark on the expense of trying to do anything to mark the Olympics. Like us they had decided NOT to risk any production that could possibly bring the power and wrath of the Olympic committee down upon their rather small and unprotected heads. We think we will not  even draw attention to ourselves by continuing to fly the Union Jack after this week; luckily the sporting figures that we do make, are not exactly hugely popular Olympic sports anyhow.

So we can safely have a window of our Rye Pottery Golfers and Cricketers with no danger of a writ, I might even include the Rye Gardeners or the Rye Chef as so far I have not heard  that either gardening or cooking are included in the 2012 line-up!

Biddy Cole

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Rye Pottery in the Local papers

Hot on the heels of Biddy’s appearance in the Mail on Sunday, a great piece about our Royal Jubilee Commemorative pieces in our supportive local paper – The Rye and Battle Observer.

“Rye Pottery is the original and also the last remaining pottery in Rye, but it is also one of just a handful of English potteries to have consistently manufactured  commemorative items for all the major Royal Events throughout the reign of Queen Elizabeth II…

Biddy Cole, from Rye Pottery, said: “One long-established local family recently came to buy Rye Pottery’s Diamond Jubilee mugs for their grandchildren, because they had such fond memories of their own children being given Rye Pottery Silver Jubilee tankards while attending Rye’s primary school back in 1977.

“It was a wonderful symbol of support for both the Diamond Jubilee and our long-standing local manufacturing business, and particularly so in the current economic climate.

”The charm of a hand-decorated mug is still so great and so particular to Rye Pottery that yet again we are struggling to keep up with demand.”

>> Click here to read the whole article and to find out all the latest local news!

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Rye Pottery on BBC Radio

Rye Pottery will be on local radio tomorrow Thursday May 31st.  We have been asked to join in a telephone chat about The Diamond Jubilee helping small Sussex firms in these difficult times. We should be live on BBC Radio Sussex 95.3 FM or 105 FM and also on DAB at about 8.40am.

It is always fun to be involved,  but a bit nerve racking doing live pieces. Last year we did a live interview outside the Pottery as the reception was better, but the local train went through at the same time, which meant all the cars were stuck in the road behind us waiting to move while the Rail Crossing gates were shut!

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More about our Jubilee pieces


May seems to be rushing past and still we cannot catch up on our Diamond Jubilee orders!   We are making the little transfer  tankards as fast as we can, not helped by Bank Holidays of course when no kilns are firing !  We have been digging into our archives and have been pleased to find pictures of the colourways used to celebrate the Coronation back in 1953.  So here are 2 sizes of hand painted  Jubilee Tankards in the Coronation  Pattern – the large is approx 1 pint size and the smaller 1/2 pint.

We have used the same  charmingly cheerful colourway to paint  both 8 inch and  10 inch  diameter plates, not to mention  the centre piece of our Diamond Jubilee display~ a large hand thrown bowl~ in the same striking colourway.

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Country Homes & Interiors magazine

Rye Pottery Multifloral Jug used by Country Homes & Interiors Magazine

We’ve tiled more bathrooms than we can count in the last 40 years with our Rye Tiles Range, but we’ve just spotted a wonderful photograph from interiors magazine Country Homes & Interiors. You can see the beautifully styled shot on the magazine’s website here – Summer bathroom | Bathroom ideas | Image | housetohome.co.uk. It’s a classic straight jug in multifloral and serves as a good reminder that jugs are just as good for flowers as they are for drinks!

Biddy recently bought a Rye Pottery vintage Cadborough Brown glazed jug on ebay (yes we’re partial to a bit of Ebaying too) which she also uses as a flower vase. This though, is a glaze which we don’t currently make and we wanted an extra one for our archive.

The House to Home site is great, packed with ideas and inspiration, and it’s the online home for a diverse group of leading interiors magazines from Homes & Gardens and Country Homes & Interiors to Style at home and Living etctake a look by clicking here.

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Vintage Pottery Enquiries

I must apologise to the people who write to us hoping for information about items of pottery produced over the past 60 years by the other potteries in Rye – now ALL CLOSED.

We try to give you any information we do have, but as they were all separate businesses,  albeit mainly opened by ex-employees of Rye Pottery, I am afraid it means we have only a limited amount of  hard facts at our disposal.


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News round up

Although this seemingly endless rain has prevented some of the regular April visitors from making the dash from London to Rye this year, we have been very pleased to receve a great many compliments from all the ones who have braved the April showers. So many people seem surprised that we have managed to avoid using the standard Royal photograph as  decoration on our Jubilee Pottery, instead we have continued working with images from our very good collection of Royal Heraldry artwork to produce a souvenir that people really appreciate. We have let one customer down though, she really wanted a thimble and somehow Rye has never trodden the souvenir thimble path!

We have struggled to find out exactly how Rye Town plans to spend the Jubilee week end, but so far have found a rather large hole in the information available; however I am sure something will be happening then, and in the meantime we have looked out our Union Jack flag so it will be ready to fly from our flagpole on June 2.


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Spring has sprung!

leaf-corners-and-flowers-4cropped-Small1-250x246At last we can feel that whatever the weather now does it will still be spring, the trees are all in bud and the birds are singing at least when they are not fighting. Rye is thankfully back on the railway map, and one set of roadworks on the East of Rye has been completed and we are promised the Western approaches will be finished by March 30th.

Here at Rye Pottery we cannot seem to  make enough of our little Diamond Jubilee tankards, almost all the current batch we have in production are already ordered, but we are not grumbling about that!

I am often asked why we do not sell directly from our web site; this is because we do not seem to have a lot of stock or inventory, as its called in the USA, and rather than annoy customers by being unable to fulfil an order, at least  if we are in personal contact with them  I can explain the problems. I will always email a price list so please email me if that is what is needed.

We have  finally managed to get round to taking a lot of hand painted tile photographs as we are planning a proper Rye Tiles page;  so while we organise that here are some Rye Tiles to whet your appetites as the nesting and spring cleaning season really gets going.

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What excitement! Not only is March 1 St David’s Day ~always a very special day in my life as I spent my childhood in a village in North Wales;  but even more importantly for Rye Pottery,  I have also discovered that  March 1st  1360  is the day that  King Edward 111 paid £ 16 ransom to free a young Geoffrey Chaucer then fighting  as a  soldier in France during the Siege of Rheims. It is difficult to imagine what English Literature would have been like today without the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer, so we should all be grateful to King Edward for paying off this ransom so early in his career .

DIAMOND JUBILEE UDATE –  We are gradually building up a small quantity of stock of our smaller Jubilee pieces, but it is good news to see how quickly things are selling as soon as we put some on display ~ GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!

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Even more Diamond Jubilee.


We are working very hard trying to produce lots of our popular little tankards, but as with all very special things it is quite a process to have one ready to display for sale in the shop.

All the tankards are hand thrown on the wheel by Steve Russeell, who works to carefully pre-set measurements, but of course with anything totally hand made there must always be room for a little variation in width and height!

This clay mug is then bisque fired and brought down to our decorating workshop in Rye, where Julie Catt glazes it,  then paints the bands around the top of the mug and puts the dash onto the handle then it is back into the kiln again.

Finally Betty Sayer  having printed up a  folder full of transfers will apply the transfers carefully, including the Rye Pottery backstamp and it is ready for the final firing in the  kiln.  So as you will appreciate we really do sell a Diamond Jubilee  Tankard which is both hand made and hand decorated here in Rye.

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Rye Pottery DIamond Jubilee Hand-painted, 10in diameter plate, blue- green


Although the first week end of June will be the time for the  main Diamond Jubilee celebrations, February 6th is the actual date of Her Majesty’s accession in 1952.  We have been working hard to have some special pieces ready, we had already sold our first handpainted plate sample to a regular customer who is involved in various civic celebrations, fortunately we have painted a  few more which we have now fired!

We are planning to  have a display in our shop  of some of our Commemorative Jubilee pottery which we will hope to change as and when  new pieces appear!  Our current problem is that somehow we have managed to only put one of the 2 relevant dates on the first trial batch of little tankards. At least this is a fault we can easily put right,  just need to stay awake while putting the transfer onto the tankard;  unlike the plate we painted for the Queen and Prince Philip’s Silver Wedding in 1972 when we managed to write PRICNCE (sic) instead of prince and did not notice it until it was fired and ready to go on display!

STOP PRESS  correctly dated tankards with the right dates just  starting to come through the system.

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Living etc

Living etc March 2012

So we’ve just had a call from the folks at interiors magazine Living etc, asking for a number of our products for upcoming photoshoots.

All in all, three products are being dispatched as we speak, one of our charming Rye Rabbits in London Grey Sponge, a pair of our Charcoal Cockatoos and last but not least, William the Conqueror from our 1066 Bayeux Tapestry inspired series.

So keep those eyes peeled!



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Rye Pottery gears up to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

WVC-Anne-Mark-weddingbowl-25-cm-Small-250x221This year we are, in total contrast to last year’s Royal Wedding, all geared up and raring to go with new Rye Pottery designs to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

We have planned and painted a sample of our hand-painted large plate, as well as designing the artwork for the much-loved little transfer tankards and small dishes.  We hope to add some one-off pots throughout the next 6 months, which will be sold on a strictly first come first served basis.

Rye Pottery have produced Royal Commemoratives for over 100 years. Hastings Museum has a 1902 jug made for Edward VII  and we’ve also seen trials and drawings for an Edward VIII 1936 mug designed by Robert “Bobby” Baker (later Professor of Ceramics at the Royal College of Art while Tarquin was a student) who before WW2 was working for Rural Industries.

The post-war Cole dynasty at Rye Pottery made tankards and dishes for the 1953 Coronation and have never looked back, producing special designs for each succeeding Royal event. We even printed 2 miles of 6 inch square tiles during the 1981 Royal Wedding celebrations.

Recently we bought two lovely Royal pieces on ebay, one of which, a Wally Cole design, is we believe a one-off.

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Noticed in the papers.

Last week we were saddened but interested to see an obituary of cartoonist Ronald Searle that used a photograph of him standing in his studio. Just behind him was a lovely 50s Rye Pottery Jug holding his paint brushes.

(You can see the picture here).

Spotting the Rye Pot is always a fun game – they seem to come up in Midsomer Murders frequently, though so far no piece has been the actual murder weapon!

Last week was also the anniversary of the death of Edward the Confessor in 1066 and the accession to the English throne of  Harold the following day; so much for his promises to William, perhaps like many politicians the opportunity  of holding  power made it worthwhile jettisoning his principles.

For the next 9 weeks the railway from Ashford  to Hastings via Rye  will be closed for major repairs, so if you are visiting Rye  it  will be simpler to travel by car until the end of March.

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A new year and some old friends.


The Christmas decorations are now all put away until next December, while we work our way through some large boxes of samples that had been stored away when we were moving out of the Ferry Road site 5 years ago this month.

We have found several figures in different colourways, some of which we may decide to repeat, as well as some very early lamp bases with charming hand painted  designs  which  we may copy onto some other shapes.

Meanwhile we wish all our collectors a very happy and healthy 2012 and we look forward to hearing from you and hopefully seeing some of you during the coming year.

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