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Above:KateMalone GiantQueen teapot(c1996)Below:A typical earlyStaffordshire'agateware'teapot (c1750) Right(clockwise):Aview of theTwinings TeapotGallery, NorwichCastle Museum;Walter Keeler's'functional'teapots; Thispineapple teapotfrom c1760symbolised itsowner's wealthand good taste Fine chinaNorwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery has one of themost impressive teapot collections in the UK. Dr Francesca Vanke, Curator of Decorative Art, talksus through the many and varied treasures on displayNorwich Castle has had a longand varied history. Built by theNormans as a royal palace in1121, it had become a prison by the14th century, which it remained until the1880s. By 1894 the prison had beenmoved elsewhere and Norwich Castlewas transformed into a museum.Today Norwich Castle Museum & ArtGallery is a thriving regional museum,part of the county-wide NorfolkMuseums and Archaeology Service. Itholds designated collections in fine art,decorative art, natural history andarchaeology, and runs an ambitious andvaried temporary exhibition programme,frequently featuring loans from nationalmuseums and galleries. Among itsdecorative art collections, it is bestknown for its important holdings ofNorwich silver, Lowestoft porcelain andceramic teapots.The story of Norwich Castle's teapotsis typical of the way in which manymuseums acquire their collections. In1946 Colonel Bulwer, a local collectorand trustee, bequeathed around 60018th-century ceramic teapots tothe Castle. His collection, mainlybuilt up in the 1920s-30s,contains many raritieswhichNORWICH CASTLE MUSEUMwould be very difficult to come by today.His generous bequest gave NorwichCastle a firm basis upon which toestablish a world-class teapot collection.Among the highlights of the Bulwercollection are early 18th-century Chineseexport teapots, quirky and unusualStaffordshire earthenware pieces anddelicate English soft-paste porcelainwares. One small 'agateware' pot of1750 (below) is typical of an earlyStaffordshire teapot. It is made ofdifferent coloured clays mixed togetherto resemble the random striatedpatterns of agate. Its small size reflectsthe high price of tea and its status as aluxury foodstuff in the first half of the18th century. The lion-shaped knob onthe lid and the snake handle are Orientalin style, reminding us that at the time, alltea came from China. The first teapots available in Europecame from China. However, repairs werecommon, showing how highly valuedporcelain was, more so than any othertype of ceramic at the time,because of its beauty, rarityand expense. There is an early18th-century porcelain potin the collection thathas a Europeansilver replacementspout ofsimilar date to the pot itself. Ceramic wares in Chinesestyle were very fashionable, displayingtheir owners' cosmopolitan taste, as wellas the wealth that enabled them to drinktea on a regular basis. Tea was highlytaxed, so that a pound of tea costbetween around 8s -£1 per pound inthe mid-18th century. Compared to beerat 1d a quart, or gin at 2d a half pint thiswas extortionate. Tea drinking wastherefore an important symbol ofgracious living, reflected in the fact thatmany aristocratic families chose to havetheir portraits painted at the tea table. Colonel Bulwer's bequest put NorwichCastle 'on the map' for teapots, so thatwhen another collector, Philip Miller, wascontemplating selling his teapot collectionalmost 50 years later, he offered it toNorwich Castle. This truly monumentalgathering of over 2,000 British ceramicteapots arrived in the Castle in 1992.Fortuitously enough, date-wise thiscollection began where the Bulwercollection left off. It consisted mainly of19th-century teapots, with additionalcups, sugar bowls and cream jugs. Typical of the wares from Miller'scollection is an elegant neo-classicalChamberlain's Worcester tea-set ofaround 1800, white and flutedto resemble a Greek column,with elegant gilded decoration.By 30 years later, this decorativeminimalism had given way to itsopposite, the exuberantly flamboyantneo-rococo or Romantic style, withcurves and curlicues and abundantgilding of every possible surface. It isnoticeable that these later teapots aremuch larger in size than those of theprevious century. Tea taxes fell graduallyover the second half of the 18th centuryand, by 1839, Britain had begun to50NADFAS REVIEW / AUTUMN

import tea from India rather than China,which made it much cheaper.Together all these teapots form aninternationally significant collection: thelargest of English ceramic teapots in theworld. In Norwich Castle Museum, adisplay of over 600 teapots makes itpossible to trace the evolution of thisiconic object in Britain from 1700 to thepresent day. The collection is still expanding. Whilewe no longer have the space toaccommodate teapots in theirthousands, or even hundreds, we arealways keen to acquire pots of anytypes not represented so far. We areparticularly interested in pieces from thelater 20th century up till the present day.A group of more up-to-date pieces inour collection, created in the 1990s byinternationally known potter WalterKeeler, are completely functional, butexplore the artistic form with wit andoriginality, completely modern, butinspired by historical precedent. Since the advent of tea bags, theteapot is used far less, but it remainsiconic for today's ceramicists, who areinspired by theform for itsinfinite artisticpossibilities justas much as for thecreation of a practicaldomestic object.Norwich CastleMuseum & Art Galleryaims to continue todisplay the evolvingnature of the teapot forthe enjoyment of its visitorsnow and into the future. Open: Mon-Sat, 10am-4.30pm,Sun, 1pm-4.30pm; Cost: £6.60; Tel: 01603 493625; REVIEW / AUTUMN 201151All images: © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service