Worcester Porcelain was established in 1751, and is believed to be the oldest porcelain brand in England.
The factory was established by Dr John Wall, a physician who worked in conjunction with apothecary William Davis to develop an entirely new method of porcelain production. Wall was inspired by the beautiful porcelain that had been created in Asia for centuries, and sought to produce a distinctive English version of these luxury items, which would also serve to boost prosperity in Worcester.
Initially, thirteen businessmen were persuaded to invest in a new factory on the banks of the River Severn, which produced early wares from a recipe of soft-paste porcelain, known as soapstone. The earliest Worcester porcelain was painted in blue under the glaze, and the brand later became known for its distinctive decorative hand-painted patterns. The skills and craftsmanship of painters such as William Bagnall, John Freeman and Kitty Blake created densely coloured and intricate designs of fruit and foliage; the productions offering a unique and sumptuous richness which clearly states their Worcester origin.
By 1756 Robert Hancock had arrived at Worcester, the first man to successfully apply transferred prints onto porcelain, which vastly increased both the possibility for production and the range of wares the company was able to create. Around 1770 one of the first Royal dinner services was made for the Duke of Gloucester.
Dr John Wall retired in 1774, but his partners continued manufacturing until the company was taken over by their London agent, Thomas Flight. Flight’s two sons were principally responsible for the running of the factory at this time, and by 1788, the quality of the wares produced had earned a visit from George III, who granted its prestigious Royal Warrant. As official manufacturers to their Majesties, the word “Royal” was added to their name.
In 1840 manufacture was consolidated on the current factory site and, following major modernisation in 1862, the company became “The Worcester Royal Porcelain Company Limited”
In 1914, following a request from the government, Royal Worcester expanded its production to include hard porcelain for use in laboratories, schools and hospitals, and production of these utility wares has continued since.
During the 21st century the company worked closely with art and artists to continue producing innovative and prestigious pieces. 2001 was the 250th anniversary of the Royal Worcester Porcelain company, and their impeccable craftmanship and tailored designs keep them at the forefront of demand as creators of iconic British tableware.
Anthemion Auctions in Cardiff regularly offer Royal Worcester porcelain amongst other English, Welsh, continental and oriental ceramics in their Fine Art Auctions. The works of Royal Worcester are both varied and distinctive, and they are among the most highly collected of auction ceramics.