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Jug

  • Place of origin:

    Mill Green (made)

  • Date:

    early 14th century (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Red earthenware covered partly with a white clay slip and copper green glaze

  • Museum number:

    C.184-1926

  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 145, case 47

This jug is of the type known as 'Mill Green Ware'. Mill Green, near Ingatestone in Essex, was a pottery production centre that supplied consumer needs in London and throughout Kent and Essex. Their products have also been found in smaller numbers in Hertfordshire and in Cambridgeshire. Excavations of the kilns used at Mill Green have indicated that it was producing pottery between about 1270 and 1350.

Mill Green jugs are characterised by their white slip coating and speckled green glazing. These jugs are thinly potted, indicating fine craftsmanship. This feature combined with the decorative incised slip and coloured glaze indicates that the jugs were intended for use in fine dining settings.

The larger portion of the body of this jug is covered with a slip of white clay. This was used to enhance its decorative effect. The red body of the jug was covered with the contrasting white colour slip and then lines were incised through the slip, revealing the red body underneath. This was a simple means of achieving more than one colour on the body of the pot.

Additionally, the centre portion of the jug was then given a sprinkling of a coloured glaze. Glaze, produced in this instance from lead sulphide (‘galena’), was not used in the south east of England until the latter part of the 11th century. Glazing renders the ceramic body less permeable to liquids. On this jug it is only sparsely used and is intended primarily for decorative effect. The green colour is achieved by adding copper filings to the galena in suspension.

The base of the jug is slightly convex and has depressions all round on the exterior of the rim. This is known as ‘thumbing’ and was formerly believed to have been done to render the convex base more stable when placed on a flat surface. Recent experiments have indicated that the ‘thumbing’ and convex bases enabled the unfired, glazed, pots to stack better upside down and to reduce the contact surface between the stacked pots. If any glaze fell from one pot down to another in the kiln and fused them together, the point of this fused contact was minimal and could be severed safely.

This type of jug was formerly known as 'West Kent ware'. Similar jugs can be found in the British Museum and in the Museum of London.

Physical description

Jug of reddish earthenware covered partly with a white slip and a mottled green glaze. The lower part of the jug is conical in shape, having several sets of vertical lines scored through the slip. The bottom of the jug is slightly convex. The base has been 'thumbed' all around to make it stand more firmly.

Place of Origin

Mill Green (made)

Date

early 14th century (made)

Materials and Techniques

Red earthenware covered partly with a white clay slip and copper green glaze

Dimensions

Height: 28.2 cm, Width: 17.0 cm maximum, Diameter: 15.9 cm

Object history note

Bought for £2 from A.S. Hartrick of 75 Clancarty Row, Fulham, London. 26/4443
Temporary entry pending creation of acquisition record.
Said by the former owner, A.S. Hartrick, to have been found in the City of London.

Historical context note

This jug is of the type known as 'Mill Green Ware'. Mill Green, near Ingatestone in Essex, was a pottery production centre that supplied consumer needs in London and throughout Kent and Essex. Their products have also been found in smaller numbers in Hertfordshire and in Cambridgeshire. Excavations of the kilns used at Mill Green have indicated that it was producing pottery between about 1270 and 1350.

Mill Green jugs are characterised by their white slip coating and speckled green glazing. These jugs are thinly potted, indicating fine craftsmanship. This feature combined with the decorative incised slip and coloured glaze indicates that the jugs were intended for use in fine dining settings.

The larger portion of the body of this jug is covered with a slip of white clay. This was used to enhance its decorative effect. The red body of the jug was covered with the contrasting white colour slip and then lines were incised through the slip, revealing the red body underneath. This was a simple means of achieving more than one colour on the body of the pot.

Additionally, the centre portion of the jug was then given a sprinkling of a coloured glaze. Glaze, produced in this instance from lead sulphide (‘galena’), was not used in the south east of England until the latter part of the 11th century. Glazing renders the ceramic body less permeable to liquids. On this jug it is only sparsely used and is intended primarily for decorative effect. The green colour is achieved by adding copper filings to the galena in suspension.

The base of the jug is slightly convex and has depressions all round on the exterior of the rim. This is known as ‘thumbing’ and was formerly believed to have been done to render the convex base more stable when placed on a flat surface. Recent experiments have indicated that the ‘thumbing’ and conves bases enabled the unfired, glazed, pots to stack better upside down and to reduce the contact surface between the stacked pots. If any glaze fell from one pot down to another in the kiln and fused them together, the point of this fused contact was minimal and could be severed safely.

This type of jug was formerly known as 'West Kent ware'. Similar jugs can be found in the British Museum and in the Museum of London.

Descriptive line

Red earthenware jug. covered partly with a white clay slip and copper green glaze. English, Mill Green (Essex), early 14th century.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Bernard Rackham, Medieval English Pottery, London: Faber & Faber, 1948
J. Alexander & P. Binski, eds., Age of Chivalry: Art in Plantagenet England 1200-1400, ex. cat., Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1987
R.W. Newall, 'Thumbed and Sagging Bases on English Medieval Jugs: A Potter's View', Medieval Ceramics, vol. 18 (1994), pp.51-57
R.L. Hobson, Catalogue of the Collection of English Pottery in the British Museum, British Museum, 1903
J. G. Hurst, 'Jugs with bases thumbed underneath', Medieval Archaeology, vols.6-7 (1962-3), pp.295-8
J.E. Pearce, A.G. Vince and M.A. Jenner, 'A Dated Type-series of London Medieval Pottery Part One: Mill Green Ware', Trans. London and Middlesex Archaeological Society, 33 (1982), pp.266-298
Alan G. Vince, 'The Saxon and medieval pottery of London: a review', Medieval Archaeology, 29 (1985), pp. 25-93

Labels and date

Jug 'Mill Green Ware'
Made in Ingatestone, Essex, England, late 13th-early 14th century
Red earthenware with white slip decoration and lead glaze

C.184-1926

Found in excavations in the City of London. [23/05/2008]

Production Note

Mill Green is near Ingatestone in Essex

Materials

Red earthenware; Lead glaze; Slip

Techniques

Glazing; Turning

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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