Edward Bingham, the life and times of a Victorian rustic potter turned celebrity
On Wednesday 14 October 2015 Braintree District Museum is pleased to be hosting a talk by Charles Bird on the Bingham pottery industry of Castle Hedingham. Incurably romantic, and despite enormous obstacles, Edward Bingham departed from the Victorian staple diet of garden pottery and chimney pots to create a unique and fascinating style of ornamental pottery all his own. He was inspired by medieval and Tudor wares, including the medieval pottery industry at Sible Hedingham, as well as Egyptian, Roman, Greek, French and Venetian designs.
Our speaker Charles Bird has lived in Castle Hedingham for many years and is a great admirer of Bingham's work. He said, “Edward Bingham's recently discovered diary provides some fascinating sketches of life in the Lambeth potteries, and in the rural parishes where Bingham did some of his best work". Charles will be using this diary as a key source during his talk.
Bingham was born in 1829, the son of a Lambeth potter who set up business in Gestingthorpe, Essex making functional wares. The family moved to Castle Hedingham in 1837 where Edward assisted his father in the business. However he always had a more artistic flair, and would model flowers, birds, animals and snakes. In 1851 Edward visited the Great Exhibition in London and became inspired by the new decorative arts on display. He received commissions from some influential people and also ran an art school for five years. His works went on display in Chelmsford, Sudbury and Hertford, and in 1894 he showed his work at the Art and Industries Exhibition at the Albert Hall. Bingham had never been very commercially minded and passed the business on to his son in 1899, who, it turned out, also unfortunately lacked business skills. The industry was sold in 1901 and operated under the name of the Essex Art Pottery until its closure in 1905.
Bingham's works include jugs, bowls, cups and plates of all sizes — his 'Essex' jugs are often three feet high. Edward had a distinctive style, including a watery glaze. Items from Braintree District Museum's Bingham collection are on display in the main galleries.
The Hedingham area has had a long association with pottery. The important medieval Hedingham ware industry, from which Bingham drew some of his inspiration, was based in and around Sible Hedingham. This industry produced coarse-wares (simple kitchen wares) and decorated and glazed fine wares, in particular jugs. Key pieces from this collection are on display in our Magna Carta anniversary exhibition 'Medieval Toil & Trouble - Castle Hedingham : Magna Carta'. This exhibition will be open from 22 September 2015 - 30 January 2016.
Tickets for the talk are £3 per person, including light refreshments. To book a place please call 01376 328868.
About Braintree Museum
Braintree District Museum conserves and celebrates the history of Braintree and its surrounding areas, focusing on the District's industrial and cultural achievements and its many notable personalities. The Museum's main galleries chart the history of the town from the prehistoric era up to the 21st century, focusing on Braintree's archaeology, industry and craftsmanship. Exhibits include artefacts discovered in the local area a dedicated area for Crittall Windows and exhibits that focus on the importance of both the Courtauld and Warner textile firms. For more information visit braintreemuseum.co.uk and follow us @museumbraintree on Twitter and on Facebook.