The Museum of London has unveiled three exquisite ceramic bowls recently found beneath the streets of Borough Market. The intriguing collection offers a picture of what could have been displayed on a dresser in a London home during the 17th century.
The three objects consist of a ‘Tulip Charger’ bowl, which dates to the 1660s – the decade of the Great Fire, a ‘Dutch-style boy and the dog bowl’ dating from the same time and a bowl with the coat of arms of the Leathersellers’ Company dated 1674, which celebrates the marriage of Nathaniel Townsend, who was admitted to the company in 1673.
Much of the tin glazed ware was made in Southwark from about 1613 at pothouses in Rotherhithe, Horsley Down, and Abbots Lane, and at Montague Close just against the North Side of Southwark Cathedral, where these three bowls were unearthed.
Roy Stephenson, Head of Archaeological Collections and Archive at the Museum of London, said: “They are beautiful objects: truly unique and unusual finds. What’s really interesting about them is that we now have a group of objects that offer an astonishing snapshot of a Londoner’s life at this point in history.”
Jerry Swift, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Network Rail, said: “Network Rail has some unusual challenges. Usually it’s working with the glorious but often challenging legacy that our Victorian forebears left us. This time, as we have to build to carry the new viaduct at Borough Market, we find ourselves delving even deeper into London’s past. We recognise that providing a rail network that Britain can rely on can come at a price to that heritage. We are delighted to be working with the Museum of London to learn what we can during this key construction phase.”
Towards the end of the 16th century London was the first major city to produce tin-glazed ware successfully and on a commercial scale. The term ‘delftware’ was widely used from the 18th century onwards to refer to tin-glazed earthenware made in Britain, rather than the products of the famous Dutch centre of Delft. The chief attraction of tin-glazing is in allowing potters to decorate their wares with coloured pigments applied over a lead glaze made opaque by the addition of tin.
The intriguing bowls will today go on display in the War, Plague and Fire gallery at the Museum of London. Entrance to the Museum is free.