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The Farnham Pottery, Including the Pottery Workshops, Kiln, Water Cistern, Entrance Block,toilet Block, Former Forge, Mess Room and Garage

A Grade II Listed Building in Farnham, Surrey

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Latitude: 51.195 / 51°11'42"N

Longitude: -0.8204 / 0°49'13"W

OS Eastings: 482520

OS Northings: 144636

OS Grid: SU825446

Mapcode National: GBR DBG.3D4

Mapcode Global: VHDY7.Q7M7

Plus Code: 9C3X55VH+XR

Entry Name: The Farnham Pottery, Including the Pottery Workshops, Kiln, Water Cistern, Entrance Block,toilet Block, Former Forge, Mess Room and Garage

Listing Date: 27 May 1999

Last Amended: 18 February 2011

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1387288

English Heritage Legacy ID: 475230

Location: Farnham, Waverley, Surrey, GU10

County: Surrey

District: Waverley

Civil Parish: Farnham

Built-Up Area: Farnham

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Surrey

Church of England Parish: Wrecclesham

Church of England Diocese: Guildford

Tagged with: Architectural structure Business

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The Farnham Pottery, including the pottery
workshops, kiln, water cistern, entrance block,
former forge, mess room and garage

(Formerly Listed as:
The Farnham Pottery)


Pottery comprising workshops, kiln, water cistern, office and showroom in entrance block, forge, mess room, garage and toilet block. Part of the workshops is in use a tile shop, part of the entrance block is now a shop with living accommodation over and the forge and messroom are currently in use as a cafe.

DATE RANGE: The central ranges of the pottery workshops were built in 1873, by Absalom Harris with c.1890 and 1895-1913 extensions and a c.1913 kiln. The entrance block central and south part were constructed between 1875 and 1895 with a north extension added between 1895 and 1913. The water cistern was built by 1896. The forge was built between 1895 and 1913 and the toilet block in 1931. The buildings were restored c.2000.

MATERIALS: All materials were manufactured on site with walls of brick in stretcher bond, including extruded bricks, with pantiled roofs. Terracotta and glazed ceramic features have been incorporated in both exteriors and interiors.

PLAN: The buildings comprise a detached entrance block along the north eastern boundary of the site, detached pottery workshops to the south-west with attached kiln at the south western end, a detached water cistern to the west of the pottery workshops and a detached former forge, messroom, garage and toilet block along the north-western boundary of the site.

EXTERIOR: Comprises a two-storey central block adjoining Pottery Lane consisting of a vehicle entrance with showroom above flanked by a single-storey office wing to the south and a lower two-storey former stable wing to the north. It is constructed of stretcher bond brick with a pantiled roof with end terracotta finials to the central part and the north wing has a cylindrical chimneystack of moulded bricks. The north-east elevation facing the road has no window openings but the central block has a cambered headed vehicle entrance with a surround of large ceramic sgraffito tiles with the legend 'A. HARRIS & SON. POTTERY WORKS. 1873.' in an Arts and Crafts Manner. There are plank double doors below. The inner south-west elevation has two casement windows with ceramic surrounds to the southern part. The central block has two six-light mullioned and transomed windows with ceramic surrounds to the first floor on each side of a hoist. The ground floor has a cambered central entrance constructed of moulded ceramic tiles depicting an owl with outspread wings, said to have been the work of Gertrude Harris, and smaller round-headed arched openings to the sides. The north wing has mid C20 metal-framed casements and a loading door over a wide entrance.
INTERIOR: The office in the south range contains a green tiled fireplace manufactured by the pottery.

EXTERIOR: The north-east side of the pottery workshops has four gables, two of these and part of a third the original 1873 pottery ranges. To the south is a wide, partly projecting, late C19 half-hipped range with a wooden casement. This is folllowed by a gabled range with ceramic mullioned and transomed window on the ground floor, two wooden casements and an external chimneystack with some extruded bricks. Adjoining is a gabled range with wooden casements flanked by ceramic drainpipes and hopper heads, one dated 1905. The north end gable is very wide and partly late C19 with two late C20 wooden casements to the first floor and two mullioned and transomed windows with ceramic surrounds to the ground floor. The south-west side has a wide gable to the north with late C20 wooden casement windows in original surrounds and an external chimneystack. Adjoining is a two-storey late C19 section with five late C20 windows on the first floor and a circular window with ceramic edged glazing bars on the ground floor. The southern end projects under a hipped roof, the south-west side incorporating a first floor round-headed arch with voussoirs of moulded terracotta. Under the projecting roof is the kiln, a parallel twin flued updraught kiln capable of firing both bricks and pottery. This is circular with a tapering top, built in extruded brick in English bond, with a cambered headed opening through which items were inserted for firing in the firing chamber and two round-headed stoking holes for the furnace below and a beehive-shaped chamber. It was last used c.1970 and is thought to be the best preserved example of a traditional wood fired pottery kiln remaining in England, only one other smaller one known to be extant in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire.
INTERIOR: The ground floor of the north range has a tiled floor of sample tiles. the upper floor, formerly the white glaze room, retains upright posts with holes for fixing timber shelves for stacking pottery, although the roof structure has been mainly renewed. The central range has a glazing room on the north-east of the ground floor, the walls covered with sample glazed tiles in various colours including some decorative tiles. These are thought to date from c.1948, following factory legislation affecting the use of toxic lead glazes. Behind this was the pug mill, originally housing a steam engine, removed some years ago to Hollycombe Steam Museum near Liphook, which retains a tiled floor and posts with peg holes. The first floor has a slatted wooden floor and originally housed a kiln, which explains the hipped roof and surviving ladder to reach the top of the kiln. The rear part of the central section was the fancy room (used for fancy wares) and retains posts with adjustable shelves for stacking pots. The roof structure was mainly replaced c.2000. The south range ground floor retains a tiled floor and floor joists but the staircase is c.2000 and the roof structure has been renewed.

Above ground level the circular top is visible, comprising ten courses of bricks, reducing in diameter towards the top. The interior was not inspected. This structure was used for capturing rainwater for use in the manufacturing of pottery.

EXTERIOR: These buildings are linked by a brick boundary wall with curved parapet towards the north-east. The toilet block of 1931 is single storeyed and has a roof of glazed green pantiles left over from an order for a Governor's house in Rangoon. There are screen walls on each side incorporating quadrant curves and an attached gatepier with ball finial to the east. Two narrow windows flank a single plank door leading to a central room. Incised ceramic wall tiles indicate the separate entrances for men and women. The former forge, mess room and garage has three mullioned windows with ceramic surrounds. In the 1870s and 1880s the local landowner and inventor John Henry Knight commissioned Absalom Harris to construct a steam car in the forge. However this was probably in an earlier building on the pottery site as this particular building is not shown on either the 1896 or 1910 maps.
INTERIOR: The toilet block has glazed wall tiles and unglazed floor tiles. The former forge and mess room has tiles to dado height and a round-headed brick fireplace.

HISTORY: A major pottery industry existed in the Farnham area since Roman times and was particularly noted in the C16 and C17 for a distinctive green-glazed pottery. The Farnham Pottery at Wrecclesham, two miles south of Farnham was founded by Absalom Harris in 1873 and in the beginning produced a range of products for domestic, agricultural and horticultural uses, as well as the usual bricks and tiles, a range which was typical of many small rural potteries of the time. In the 1880s Farnham Pottery began to produce replicas of a green-glazed ware (the glaze produced by a mixture of lead and copper) produced locally in the C16 and C17. Initially this was produced for collectors, however, from about 1890 W H Allen, the head of the Farnham School of Art, encouraged the pottery to produce a wider range of art-wares and the Art School provided designs which were executed by the pottery. The products were known as 'Farnham Greenware' and they were marketed through leading department stores such as Liberty's, Heal's and Harrods. Also from about the same period moulded and pressed work, including architectural terracotta, came to form a significant part of the pottery's output. Absalom Harris's own daughters, Gertrude and Nellie, made architectural and ornamental products. Clients included the garden designer, Gertrude Jekyll, the architect Harold Falkner, the author George Strut and Mary Watts, the designer and wife of the eminent artist George Frederick Watts. The business flourished until the outbreak of the First World War and at its height had four working kilns, but suffered fluctuating fortunes afterwards.

After the 1930s the pottery concentrated mainly on horticultural and architectural products. It was operated commercially by Absalom Harris's descendants until the 1980s and was used for small-scale production until recently. The link with Farnham Art College continued and potters trained at the Art College gaining experience for a few years included Sir Terence Conran and Lord David Queensbury. In 1998 the pottery was acquired by the Farnham Building Preservation Trust. The Farnham Pottery was statutorily listed at Grade II on 27 May 1999. Since then a comprehensive programme of restoration took place. At the time of inspection in 2010 pottery was still being produced in the south range of the factory building, a tile shop operated on the ground floor of the north range, a cafe occupied the former forge, mess room and garage and a shop operated in the north part of the entrance block with a flat above.

The 1896 Hampshire Ordnance Survey 25 inch map shows the entrance building adjoining the street and the main pottery building to the south-west. A detached circular structure shown to the west is probably the water cistern. No change is recorded on the 1910 Hampshire sheel, but by the 1916 Surrey 25 inch sheet the entrance block has been extended to the north, the pottery workshop buildings have been extended to the south-west and a further building has been erected on the north-east corner of the site. The 1936 25 inch Surrey sheet shows a further building erected further west along the northern boundary, originally a forge and engine house. Both the 1916 and 1936 maps show further detached structures to the south-west of the pottery workshops, probably drying sheds, which no longer exist.

Brears, PCD, The Farnham Potteries, Chichester (1971)
Menuge, A, Farnham Pottery, NBR No. 97076, Unpublished RCHME Report (1999)
The Farnham Pottery (2010), Unpublished report by The Farnham Pottery Trust Ltd

The Farnham Pottery is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: the architectural interest of the buildings lies in the building materials and decorative features having been entirely produced by the pottery
* Historic interest: Farnham greenware was revived here in the 1880s, there was a link with the Farnham School of Art producing art-wares and some notable C20 potters were trained here
* Rarity of type: This is one of only two English Victorian country potteries known to survive

Listing NGR: SU8252044636

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