Book launch: A Potted History: Henry Willett’s Ceramic Chronicle of Britain

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Today saw the Brighton launch of A Potted History: Henry Willett’s Ceramic Chronicle of Britain, by former Brighton Museum Keeper of Decorative Art Stella Beddoe.

The 700-illustration book focuses on the popular pottery collection bequeathed to the town by Henry Willett, which includes Georgian and Victorian novelty ornaments, jugs, cups, figurines, busts and commemorative ware.

Henry Willett was a key Brighton figure and a founding father of Brighton Museum & Art Gallery.  Born into a wealthy brewing family, he spent his life collecting – with interests including fossils, natural history specimens and paintings.

Willett also collected over 2000 ceramic items dating mainly from the Georgian and Victorian periods: fascinating examples of the types of pottery used by ordinary people which also offer great insights into the topics the nation was talking about.

He loaned some of the collection to the newly-opened Brighton Museum in 1873, and a much larger collection was presented as a gift to the town in 1903.  This now sits in the Museum’s Willett Gallery.

For more info on Henry Willett please visit http://brightonmuseums.org.uk/discover/2011/06/10/personality-of-the-month-henry-willett-1823-1905/