Local Collector’s Potted History
25 January 2017
A new display in RAMM’s Visitor’s Choice windows is dedicated to pottery from Exeter collector, Mr Ernest Milverton. “I went all over Devon to collect the pieces. It took years. I gave them to the museum because I wanted everybody to enjoy them” he said.
The display includes ceramics from all over South Devon including a Carnival Prize teapot from the Devon Tors Pottery and two large vases made by Lemon and Crute, later the Daison Pottery in Torquay, between 1918 and 1920. There are Aller Vale ware and ceramics from Bovey Tracey, pieces of Torquay Terracotta and Hele Cross Pottery. Exeter Art Pottery is included as Mr Milverton was keen for these to be seen.
Mr Milverton gave his large collection of ceramics to RAMM in 1978. He returned to RAMM for his 88th birthday last July to see the pottery on display. He came again in November to meet RAMM’s new assistant curator of Decorative Art, Sally Ayres, and see pottery held in the store. A selection of his favourites are now included in the special Visitor’s Choice display.
Mr Milverton’s favourite
Mr Milverton’s favourite is a tea pot in the form of a thatched cottage. It was given to him as first prize when he and his sister entered a fancy-dress competition at Newton Abbot Carnival in 1935. The Carnival raised funds for the town’s Hospital Service, as acknowledged in the initials on the teapot. Ernie’s sister Ivy dressed up as Old Mother Hubbard and Ernie, aged seven, was The Cupboard. Their dog Rex completed the characters in the nursery rhyme. The teapot was made by Devon Tors Art Pottery in Bovey Tracey, which flourished between the wars producing pieces popular with tourists.
Royal Aller Vale Pottery
Some of the most significant pieces were made at the Aller Vale Pottery. This local pottery originally produced architectural terracotta in the 1870’s but the owner, John Phillips, was inspired by the ideas of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement and turned to making Art Ware are in the 1880’s. He encouraged young people to train in pottery skills at the local village art school in Abbotskerswell and would then employ them at the Aller Works making vases, tea sets, jugs and plates. These pieces became very popular and were even stocked by Liberty of London. Princess Louise, the daughter of Queen Victoria, purchased some pieces in 1886 and the name Royal Aller Vale was adopted. This ware is usually decorated with colourful slip designs in a simplified foliate form, often including symmetrical flower like ‘scandy’ design; but other pieces, designed to appeal to tourists, incorporated Devonshire scenes and ‘mottos’. Some of the pottery decorators from Aller Vale were later employed at the Torquay potteries of Watcombe and Longpark.
Devon Art Pottery
William Hart and Alfred Moist were two Exeter potters who had trained at Aller Vale and the Bovey Tracey Potteries. They teamed up in 1896 and a year later they took over the Exeter Art Pottery in the Old Malthouse in Bartholomew Street East. They then expanded into premises in St Thomas. Their fluid patterns and colours were influenced by Art Nouveau. Although the Exeter business was called Devon Art Pottery we often name the work simply after the makers, ‘Hart and Moist’.