October 19 2010
Last summer I met the ceramic artist Patricia Low, who makes beautiful big pinch pots featuring immaculate representations of birds and animals. We were having lunch in the garden of her idyllic house at Marten Cross in Hampshire and my wife and I were struck by the simple but stylish china on which she served lunch, with its retro 1950s and ’60s colours and designs.
It turned out that the plates and cups were made by Branksome China, the cult porcelain manufacturer which is owned by Low’s daughter, Charlie, herself a trained potter, and her husband Philip Johnson. Later we visited their shop which is an old converted cinema in the New Forest town of Fordingbridge. The line dates back to 1945 and some of the crockery, which is all finished and glazed by hand, continues to be made according to techniques and designs created by the brand’s founder, Staffordshire-born Ernest Baggaley, who died in 1987.
But the current stock has evolved from classic jugs, jam pots and sauce boats to incorporate distinctive two-tone tea and dinner services in colours with evocative names such as Evening Primrose, Elephant Grey and Sahara and Arctic Blue. We bought a set of Jet Black espresso coffee cups (£15.50 each) as well as some mugs and bowls; now Branksome frequently comes to mind whenever we’re trying to think of something to buy for a Christmas or wedding present. As well as ordering online, you can see a selection of Branksome China at Margaret Howell’s shops in Wigmore Street, the Fulham Road and Richmond.