Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie collection

Scope and Content

The Crafts Study Centre has listed together in this collection small offerings of letters, photographs and publications relating to Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie (1895-1985) and her pottery, collected or produced by various admirers. It currently consists of a letter from KPB to Jonathan Garratt, 23 May 1975.

Administrative / Biographical History

Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie was born in 1895 and brought up on her family estate, Coleshill Manor in Berkshire. She was known affectionately as 'Bina' to her family and 'Beano' to her friends. After working in the Red Cross during the First World War she moved to London, and in the 1920s, on seeing Roger Fry's pots made for the Omega Workshops, went on to study at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, initially at evening classes, under Dora Billington.

Impressed by Bernard Leach's reduction-fired pots at a London exhibition, she went to work with Leach in 1924 for a year as 'odd-job boy'. She learned from all those involved in the pottery at the time including Shoji Hamada, the Japanese potter and kiln builder Tsurunosuke Matsubayashi (known as 'Matsu') and Michael Cardew. She returned to Coleshill with Ada ('Peter') Mason (another ex-Central student) and founded the Cole Pottery at the Mill Cottage on the estate, where Matsu designed a two-chambered wood-firing kiln. KPB and Mason worked together on a series of stoneware wood-ash and vegetable ash glaze tests using trees and plants from the estate, such as holly, beech, elder, rose, honeysuckle, larch, box, maple, vine, nettle which she developed further with Norah Braden, who lived and worked at Coleshill from 1928 to 1936 (and stayed frequently thereafter). Five local clays were used, mixed with other clays from Devon and Cornwall. Pleydell-Bouverie won fame for her use of a wide range of ash glazes and provided the information for the section on 'Vegetable Ashes' in Bernard Leach's A Potter's Book (1940). KPB and Braden pots were exhibited regularly in London, Oxford and Bristol, and at exhibitions of the Red Rose Guild in Manchester.

The Cole Pottery was disbanded during the war, and following the sale of the Coleshill estate in 1946, KPB purchased Kilmington Manor in Wiltshire where she lived and worked up to her death in 1985, installing first an oil-fired kiln and in 1960 an electric kiln. She was very supportive of the establishment of the Crafts Study Centre, sitting on the Advisory Committee. She gave about 50 pots to the CSC collections, and transcribed glaze recipes into a notebook to accompany a retrospective exhibition of her work organised by the Crafts Study Centre in 1980.


  • KPC/1 Letter from KPB to Jonathan Garratt 23 May 1975

Access Information

Archive material may be viewed by appointment only.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogue on Crafts Study Centre database. A pdf copy is available on request.

Conditions Governing Use

Written permission must be sought before any archival material is published.

Appraisal Information

None timetabled.


It is likely that further Pleydell-Bouverie-related material will be offered to the CSC. Material of interest will be added to this collection.


Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie: A Potter's Life 1895-1985 , Crafts Council in association with the Crafts Study Centre, Bath

Bernard Leach, Hamada and their circle , from the Wingfield Digby Collection, Marston House, 1992

Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie , exhibition catalogue, 22 Nov 1980-22 Feb 1981, Crafts Study Centre, Bath