Spede the Plough and Farmers Arms pottery

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Spede the Plough and Farmers Arms pottery

Post by webweaver »

I am posting on behalf of Peter, who is trying to determine what stimulated English potteries to market jugs and mugs decorated with rhymes such as 'God Spede the Plough' and farming implements so widely in the 19th Century. 'God Spede the Plough' is the name of a 16th Century manuscript poem which borrows 12 stanzas from Chaucer’s 'The Monks Tale'. It is a short satirical complaint listing various indolent clergy who demand a share of the ploughman’s harvest, rendering his work futile:
Let the Wealthy & Great

Roll in Splendor & State
I envy them not I declare it
I eat my own Lamb
My own Chicken & Ham
I shear my own Fleece & I wear it
I have Lawns I have Bowers
I have Fruits I have Flowers
The Lark is my morning alarmer
So jolly Boys now
Here’s God Speed the Plough
Long Life & Success to the Farmer

There are two examples decorated with this rhyme: a Staffordshire two handled mug showing the image of farming implements and the verse in a decorative cartouche and a creamware jug of c.1780.
The reverse of the jug has another rhyme on it, contained within a cartouche of oak leaves & acorns:

To my best my friends are free
Free with that and free with me
Free to pass the harmless joke
And the tube sedately smoke
Free to drink just when they please
As at home and at their ease
Free to speak and free to think
No informers with me drink
Free to stay a night or so
When uneasy free to go

The third example is a lustre jug named for the recipient and dated 1813 showing ‘the farmer’s arms’, an arrangment of farm implements and so on.

Peter writes: I have three ideas about why this pottery became so popular:

1. Relief from the tithe system, particularly in non-conformist areas.
2. A rebound following the Napoleonic Wars and terrible harvests of the 1790s and 1800s
3. Rising wealth amongst farmers

Should anyone feel they can throw light on my ignorance, I would be delighted.
Webweaver on behalf of Peter Constable
Staffordshire two handled mug
Staffordshire two handled mug
twohandledmug.jpg (113.88 KiB) Viewed 51687 times
lustre jug named for the recipient and dated 1813 showing ‘the farmer’s arms’
lustre jug named for the recipient and dated 1813 showing ‘the farmer’s arms’
creamware jug of c.1780
creamware jug of c.1780

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