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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Guest Blogger Judith Laik Carves Coade-Stone

Our guest blogger today is Judith Laik, who has traveled with us in England and loves all things Regency.  She is the author of two Regency romances with Kensington Publishing Corp., and other works of fiction. The second edition of her co-authored book of quotations, Around the Circle Gently, has been released. Judith is a columnist for 1st Turning Point . She is currently working on a Regency historical and other projects.

She lives on a small farm in Washington state with her husband, daughter, and various animals. Visit her website here.  Written sections of this post: ©Judith Laik.



  

Coade-stone lion at Westminster Bridge, London;
Near location of early 19th c. Coade Stone manufactory


First, thanks to Vicky and Kristine for posting my article on their blog, and the credit for the amazing photos that accompany the article also goes to them. Kristine also found some additional information about the Coade Stone company that adds a lot to what I had found.

Father Thames in Coade-stone, Ham House Garden
Sculptor: John Bacon 
Eleanor Coade combined scientific and business success. She ran the Coade Stone business for twenty-five years after her husband died until it was taken over by the daughter, also named Eleanor (or Elinor in some sources). Or his business might have been unrelated to the construction material and it was the daughter who became involved in the artificial stone business and ran it.

  


  
Researching the two Eleanors is an example of a researcher’s nightmare. Some of the sources have the two women confused. But the researcher’s nightmare is the fiction writer’s delight, because after a serious attempt to run down the truth, someone writing fiction can choose the preferred version, fictionalize a bit more, and have fun with it.

Entranceways in Coade-stone in
Bedford Square
 
Tomb of Captain Bligh in Coade-stone
Garden  Museum, London
Coade stone was a spectacularly durable cement-like product (actually a ceramic material that is created by subjecting it to considerable heat in a kiln) building material which still looks new even today. It was very popular during the first half of the 19th century, and used by many of the noted architects and builders of the period.

The following account is from Some Account of London by Thomas Pennant (1813) -  In a street called Narrow Wallis Mrs. Coade's manufactory of artificial stone. Her repository consists of several very large rooms filled with every ornament which can be used in architecture. The statue, the vase, the urn, the rich chimneypiece, and, in a few words, every thing which could be produced out of natural stone or marble by the most elegant chissel, is here to be obtained at an easy rate. Proof has been made of its durable quality.

A look at the inner workings of the Coades business is provided in The History of Ceramic Art in Great Britain by Llewellynn Frederick William Jewitt (1878) -

Coades.—Coade's Artificial Stone Works, at Pedlar's Acre, King's Arms Stairs, Narrow Wall, Lambeth, opposite Whitehall Stairs or Ferry, were established about 1760 by Mrs. or the Misses Coade, under the name of "Coade's Lithodipyra, Terra Cotta, or Artificial Stone Manufactory." This material was intended to take the place of carved stone for vases, statues, and architectural enrichments. In 1769 the two Misses Coade took into partnership their cousin, a Mr. Sealy (the nephew of Mr. Coade), and by these the works ere carried on. In 1811 the firm was still "Coades & Sealy." At the death of Mr. Sealy, who survived the Misses Coade, a Mr. Croggan, who had for a long time been a clerk or manager attached to the business, became the proprietor of the works, which he continued for many years. He then disposed of the business to Messrs. Routledge, Greenwood, & Keene, who were succeeded by Messrs. Routledge and Lucas. These gentlemen, about 1840, dissolved partnership and sold off all their moulds, models, plant, etc, by auction, by Messrs. Rushworth and Jarvis, of Saville Row. Many of these moulds and models were bought by Mr. Blashfield and by other manufacturers, among whom was Mr. H. M. Blanchard of Blackfriars Road (which see), and who, being an apprentice with the Coades, and possessing many of their models, etc. claims to be their successor.


Coade and Sealey's Artificial Stone Factory, by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd
The Coades are said to have come from Lyme Regis, in Dorsetshire, and probably it was for the purpose of turning their native clay to good account in London that induced them to establish this manufactory. Bacon, Flaxman, Banks, Rossi, and Panzetta, the sculptors, were employed to model for these works, and many of the old mansions and public buildings in London and in the country, as well as abroad—including the bas-relief in the pediment over the western portico of Greenwich Hospital, representing the death of Nelson, designed by Benjamin West, and modelled by Bacon and Panzetta; and the rood-screen of St. George's Chapel, Windsor; the statue of Britannia on the Nelson monument at Yarmouth, &c— were executed at these works. The works principally produced at Coades were capitals of columns, statues, vases, bassi-relievi, monuments, coats of arms, key-stones, angle rusticated blocks, balustrades, &c They were of durable quality and excellent manufacture.

Another person employed at Coades was William John Coffee, who afterwards attained some celebrity as a modeller at the Derby China Works, and as a terra cotta maker, for a short time, at Derby. I believe he was employed as a fire-man at Coades, and here, no doubt, being a clever fellow, picked up his knowledge of modelling and of mixing bodies. The following curious letter and "information," from the originals in my own possession, give some highly interesting particulars regarding Coades' and Sealy's manufactory in 1790 :—

"The information got from the fire-man that work'd at the Artificial Stone Manufactory, Lambeth:—There is three kilns, the largest is 9 feet diameter and about 10 feet high, the other two are sizes under; they have only three fire-holes to each, and they are about 14 inches in the clear. They make use of no saggers, but their kilns are all muffled about two inches thick, which was always done by this fire-man. They always was four days and four nights of fireing a kilns, and the moment the goods are fire'd up he always took and stop'd the kilns intirely colse from any air whatever without lowering the fires at all. He has been use to fire intirely with coal (which are call'd Hartley coals—they are not much unlike yours at Derby). He never made use of any thermometer, but depended intirely on his own knowledge. Tne composition shrinks about half an inch in a foot in the drying, and about the same in the firing. A great deal of the ornaments are 4 inches thick when fired, and he has fired figures 9 feet high. This man has had the intire management of building the kilns, setting and firing them for many years; his wages was one guinea per week, and for every night when he fired he had 2s. 6d. for the small kiln, 3.1. . . . "

One of the four Coade stone caryatids that stand atop the
columns of the east front of Pitzhanger Manor
Click here for an interesting article about Coade stone and Mrs. Coade. Further articles can be found here and here.

2 comments:

Louisa Cornell said...

Fascinating subject. I LOVE information about architecture and the amazing craftsmanship that threatens to disappear from our modern techno supposedly advanced world.

Thank you, Judith!

Simon Scott said...

Interesting article. For anyone that wants to know more about Coade, how it was made, who her rivals were etc etc then please find a copy of "Artificial Stone" by Simon Scott. See http://www.haddonstone.com/Haddonstone.aspx?ID=92 for more information...