Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Boughton Pottery by L G Welland

Boughton Pottery by L G Welland
Published by The Faversham Society 1982
34pp £2.95

Browsing the extensive range of local studies available in Faversham's heritage centre, this report caught my eye for two reasons - I have ancestors from Boughton, and I have ancestors with the description 'Tile Maker' in the census returns. Sadly the tilemakers weren't from Boughton and my Boughton folk were Ag Labs, but it looked a good bet for some general background understanding anyway!

The report starts off with a general overview of the role of village potteries in Kent, before setting the scene locally in Boughton with an account of the Courtney riots near here in 1838. It is the suggestion that the inquiry into those riots -which led to to the Dunkirk area becoming a Parish with its own Church etc - may have also provided the impetus to support local industry to provide employment alternatives to simply poverty-line rural occupations.

Next we are treated to a genealogical detective trail as Welland describes how he traces the names of the potters in Boughton through various sources back to High Halsted and sets the possible scene for the move to Boughton. This part is a joy for any genealogist to follow, and a model example for any beginner to pick up and draw ideas from. It also carries a very sombre warning in the discovery that the family behind the Boughton Pottery still seemed to view the High Halsted Church as their family church - and returned there for mass baptiosms, weddings etc. A practice that could prove a bit of a nightmare for genealogists trying to locate their own families, and makes one hope it wasn't too common a phenomenon!

Finally, there is the techie bit - a thorough account of how the various sorts of pottery were made, how the pottery itself was laid out and the various occupations and buildings involved, and how different seasons saw different problems. Accompaning the text are several detailed drawings showing the various tiles, roofing tiles, and other items, plus some depictions of how the machines used would have looked.

The result is a thoughtful and very useful insight into a village industry, set within the context of the social situation in the years prior to the pottery being established, and within the family history of the people who set it up and in whose line the pottery remained for nearly 100 years - until an accident during World War Two saw its demise. A great motivation to others to flesh out their own trees and put some context to their own ancestral families!

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