The collection, which included seventy four pieces of pottery ranging from 6cm to 40cm in height, and was consigned by a private local enthusiast and collector, who amassed the collection over decades sold for a grand total of £3,100.
Castle Hedingham pottery is not widely known and takes its name from the small historical town in Essex where a family of potters lived and worked. Three generations of Bingham’s beginning in the mid-19th century fashioned handmade pots from the local clay. The Norman Castle is the most prominent landmark in the area, which is today a popular and well known attraction.
The pottery was first made in 1837, when Edward Bingham moved from Lambeth to Castle Hedingham. There has been some historical confusion as his son and grandson were also called Edward Bingham and all three became involved in the business. It was the middle Edward Bingham who introduced a style reminiscent of Medieval and Tudor pottery, which is the most recognisable product of this pottery today. In its day it was exhibited at the Art and Industries Exhibition at the Albert Hall, as well as locally. The company was sold in 1901 and production ceased soon after. The Bingham family moved to the USA, where the middle Edward Bingham was forced to retire, complaining of the lack of good clay in the USA.
There are many collectors of his pottery today, as it is well known locally and with prices starting at around £50 for a modest example, it is accessible to all.
Auctioneer James Mander said “We regularly see Castle Hedingham pottery pass through the saleroom, but I have never seen a collection this comprehensive. Seeing all these pieces together, you can really admire the naïve charm and see the individual style which marks this pottery apart. The Bingham’s must have been quite eccentric, trying out glazes shapes and designs which were largely inspired by their interest in medieval pottery. Many of the pieces look much older than they really are and carry meaningful inscriptions, rogue 17th century dates, and are applied with popular Tudor motifs. This was certainly more of a passion for the family that made them, as although they did exhibit their work, it was never a wide commercial success.
This collection has been amassed over the past twenty years by a collector from Essex, who is sadly thinning out his collections due to ill health. He purchased these pieces from wherever he could find them, often inexpensively as they are not always recognised as being Castle Hedingham pottery. In fact he was often unsure what he had purchased himself! It is easy to see why, as they are not always marked properly and marks do vary widely."
Usually, a model of the castle can be found in relief on the base and many pieces were signed into the wet clay with Bingham’s name, although they can be difficult to read. It is said that it took Edward forty minutes to make each miniature castle, which was then fixed to the base using slip.