Katherine Pleydell-Bouverie

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Katherine Pleydell-Bouverie
Thrown, Fluted jar by Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie (YORYM-2004.1.2065).JPG
Untitled Fluted Jar by Katherine Pleydell-Bouverie from the W. A. Ismay collection at York Art Gallery
BornKatherine Pleydell-Bouverie
7 June 1895
Known forpottery

Katherine (sometimes known as Katharine) Harriot Duncombe Pleydell-Bouverie (7 June 1895 in Berkshire – 1985 in Wiltshire)[1] was a pioneer in modern English Studio pottery.


Pleydell-Bouverie was born in Faringdon, then in Berkshire, to Duncombe Pleydell-Bouverie and his wife Maria Eleanor, the daughter of Sir Edward Hulse, 5th Baronet, her paternal grandfather was Jacob Pleydell-Bouverie, 4th Earl of Radnor. Pleydell-Bouverie was the youngest of three children growing up in a seventeenth century stately home surrounded by blue-and-white and famille verte Chinese porcelain. It was her childhood holidays playing on a muddy beach at Weston-super-Mare with her siblings where she was first introduced to clay.[2]

Whilst living in London in the 1920s her interest in pottery began when Pleydell-Bouverie visited Roger Fry at his Omega Workshops and saw examples of his work, which led to her attending the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London to study pottery under Dora Billington.[3]

In 1924 Pleydell-Bouverie was taken on by Bernard Leach at his pottery in St. Ives. She remained at the Leach Pottery for a year and learnt alongside Michael Cardew, Shoji Hamada and Tsuronosuke Matsubayashi known as Matsu. She did the necessary odd jobs at the pottery whilst observing technical lectures from Matsu and was soon given the nickname of "Beano".[2]

In 1925 Pleydell-Bouverie started her first pottery with a wood-fired kiln in the grounds of her family estate at Coleshill in Berkshire (now Oxfordshire), where she was joined by Norah Braden. They used ash glazes, prepared from wood and vegetables growing on the estate. In 1946 she moved to her second pottery at Kilmington Manor in Wiltshire where she worked until her death in 1985. At Kilmington she used first an oil fired kiln, and then an electric one.[3][4]

Pleydell-Bouverie's pots are functional and tend to have a style similar to Bronze Age English pottery.[5] She has been known to use a wide range of vegetable ashes to produce glaze effects for her stoneware pottery.[6]

Pleydell-Bouverie described herself as "a simple potter. I like a pot to be a pot, a vessel with a hole in it, made for a purpose".[7] In a letter to Bernard Leach written 29 June 1930, Pleydell-Bouverie said "I want my pots to make people think, not of the Chinese, but of things like pebbles and shells and birds' eggs and the stones over which moss grows. Flowers stand out of them more pleasantly, so it seems to me. And that seems to matter most."[8]


  1. ^ "Katherine Pleydell-Bouverie - Biography". Artfacts.net. 2014-01-30. Retrieved 2015-12-13.
  2. ^ a b Crafts Council (1986). Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie: A Potter's Life 1895-1985. Crafts Council. p. 8.
  3. ^ a b "Katherine Pleydell-Bouverie". University of Aberystwyth. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
  4. ^ "Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie - pottery for sale". Studio-pots.com. Retrieved 2015-12-13.
  5. ^ Crafts Council (1986). Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie: A Potter's Life 1895-1985. Crafts Council. p. 7.
  6. ^ Wingfield Digby, George (1952). The Work of the Modern Potter in England. London: John Murray.
  7. ^ "Katherine Pleydell-Bouverie". The Leech Pottery. Archived from the original on 8 November 2006. Retrieved 18 January 2007.
  8. ^ Craft Council (1986). Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie: A Potter's Life 1895-1985. Crafts Council. p. 7.

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