Mrs. Coade's Stone.

Coade Stone and its History.

The following Information , although not a direct copy, is taken from the book

" MRS COADE’S STONE". By ALISON KELLY.

The Coade Lion, Westminster Bridge, South Bank, London. Photograph: Owen Barder.

 

COADE STONE.

Coade Stone was a moulded artificial stone material with a hard surface finish, used for many types of monuments and other objects during the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. No longer made, it was produced in some quantity during this time, but successfully by only one company and its successors, that of Mrs. Coade.

The formula for Coade stone is known and contrary to popular belief it can still be produced. This has been proved by a piece of "The seated figure" made by Mollie Adam and fired by Dogenes Farri of East Sydney Technical College New South Wales.

This material is not the type of artificial stone like a concrete which sets by chemical action, it is a ceramic which has to be subjected to a considerable amount of heat for some days in a kiln, Ceramics of this type have been known for many centuries way back into antiquity as is shown by the Terra Cotta Army sensation in China from the Qin Dynasty (221 to 206 B.C.): a group of over six thousand soldier figures their horses and other equipment, a Chinese Emperor’s bodyguard for the after life, each one individually made.

The raw materials for simple but good results need a sensitive balance between the materials used and the firing. Modern kiln firing temperatures can be rigidly controlled but in Mrs Coades time, with the crude firing methods, the skills and the results were truly remarkable.

Three types of ceramics vary from Earthenware which has a small part of the clay vitrified - Porous. Stoneware which has a larger part of the clay vitrified - non porous. Porcelain which is most highly vitrified which is virtually translucent and because of this is most difficult to make into large objects because it is almost liquefied in the heat of the kiln.

Coade Stone is a form of Stoneware. Mrs Coade’s name for her products from the mid 1780’s was Lithodipyra: Greek words which she strung together roughly meaning -- Stone -- Twice -- fire. The grog which was used was made up of finely crushed up pre fired items such as wasters (already fired once) and soda lime silica - glass (also already fired once).

The formula used was 10% of grog - 5-10% of crushed flint. 5-10% fine sand to reduce shrinkage. 10% crushed soda lime glass. All these materials were then added to 60 to 70 % Ball clay from Dorset & Devon. It was the careful control and skill of the kiln firer which ensured success.

Coade Stone coat-of-arms Bloxholme. Photograph: Peter Fairweather
Coade Stone coat-of-arms, Bloxholme, Lincolnshire.
Photograph: Peter Fairweather

 

The material used made it impossible to make a one off by hand to fire because of the lack of plasticity. This is why a model was made and a mould made. An expensive way of production for the first one but a mould could be carefully kept for years (and was). For instance the first Borghese Vase was modelled in 1771 but the last at present known was actually stamped with the year 1827. Or approximately 56 years of use!

The use of certain moulds also facilitated basic items being able to be "customised" before firing with odd bits of handles or swags being added or taken away.

See the picture of Captain Bligh’s Tomb (right) in the churchyard of St Mary’s at Lambeth. The urn could have been with or without handles and the top could be a lid, finial or as it is with the eternal flame of resurrection. All pieces of drying clay from the moulds were assembled and stuck together with a slip of liquefied clay. This is clearly visible on the coat of arms at Bloxholme Lincs where the horse supporter’s leg has broken away along the slip joint.

The use of moulds and precise making of the clay enabled items to be made to measurements down to an eighth of an inch. The material was extremely stable during firing and large thin slabs could be produced without distortion.

Captain Blighs Tomb, Lambeth. Photograph: Peter Fairweather.

The Coade stone factory didn’t always get it right as there were some failures, they even had one on show in their showroom which had been grossly over fired and vitrified but on the whole most of the pieces we see today are in exceptionally good condition except for accidental damage.

"MRS" ELEANOR COADE & THE HISTORY OF THE COMPANY.

After many business ups and downs including two bankruptcies by her husband’ the last one in 1769 shortly after which he died. Mrs Eleanor Coade and her Daughter Miss Eleanor Coade (but in business circles she was known as Mrs also) moved to St Thomas Apostles Street and eventually to the address which later became the Coade Factory. Narrow Wall, Lambeth.

The younger Mrs Coade (she will be referred to as just Mrs Coade from now on) was the brains behind the Coade stone enterprise. She was a deeply religious lady and as a Baptist on her death in 1821 she left legacies to The Baptist minister at Lyme Regis the town of her birth and upbringing. She also left money to the Independent Minister and the Church of England Vicar as well. The bequests were for distributing among the poor of each denomination according to her will which still exists. She never married.

Mrs Coade started out in business on her own at first but later she took a partner, her cousin John Sealey. (Her mother’s sister Mary’s son) and later she had a manager and who became her successor in the company one William Croggon.

She was particularly fortunate that she appeared to set up her business at the opportune time as Robert Adam who used so much of her material in the ornamentation of his designs had returned to this country from his adventures in Rome and Herculanium.

Two of the designs which Adam brought back with him were copies of the Medici & Borghese vases the latter which Mrs Coade later copied and installed at the top of the entrance steps of Kedleston Hall.

Artificial stone had been made in the area of her factory since 1720 by one Richard Holt, but the coadestone formula was very different. His factory was right by the river bank near the Kings Arms Stairs and Mrs Coade later opened a showroom at the end of westminster bridge because customers had difficulty in finding her factory.

Round about 1730 Holt was in a business and advertising war with Batty Langley who set up a similar venture who produced items until he died in 1751.When Holt died his factory also fiinished production, but his goods were described as being neither well designed nor finished. There is a story that he convalesced after an illness at Lyme Regis then sold the business to Coades but hard evidence to this is non existant. though he did manufacture similar items to those which Mrs Coade produced later.

In January 1767 one David Picot advertised that he "had set up a manufacture of artificial stone executed in a manner far exceeding anything of the kind that has hitherto been offered to the Publick." He set up in Goulston Square in Whitechapel at first and later moved to Narrow Wall to the place which later became the Coade Factory. Another person called George Davy also placed similar adverts for his products, but by 1773 however Davy was in dire straits for cash. This was not surprising really since his products used on Adams’s Brentford gateway to Syon House had crumbled at the first frost. (Coades replaced most of it later!) Syon House also held some other Coade surprises. The scagliola floor in the ante room which was designed by Adam and executed by Bartoli was thought to be the original but not too long ago it was found to have been replaced by William Croggon in 1831-1832 at a cost of £900.

There were quite a few more people setting up in the field of artificial stone manufacturers and they all had one thing in common: Rapid Failure!

In 1771 on September 11th and 14th Eleanor Coade placed an advert in The Daily Advertiser, Gazetteer and The New Daily Advertiser making it plain that Mr David Picot no longer had any connection with the manufactory at Kings Arms Stairs, Narrow Wall, Lambeth. He died some 22 years later in 1792 and is buried in Bunhill Fields Cemetery. On 23rd, & 25th, 1771 another announcement in the press said that John Bacon was superintending the business. He produced many works, especially in the 1770’s which were exhibited under the name of Coade and it was only after his death in 1799 that he was given any credit for them.

By 1799 John Sealy had been made a partner in the company and the firms stamp became Coade and Sealy. Towards the end of the 18th century other designers and modellers used were John Devaere, John Charles Felix Rossi, Thomas Dubbin (Usually referred to as Mr Dubbin) and Joseph Panzetta who worked for Coades for over 26 years.

John Sealy died aged 64 in October 1813 and it was then that an elderly Mrs Coade engaged Mr William Croggon from Grampound in Cornwall. He managed the factory from 1813 to 1821 when Mrs Coade died on November 18th in her 89th Year. Croggon then had to buy the firm as Mrs Coade had not left it to him as he seemed to have expected. Croggon went bankrupt in 1833 because of the failure of the Duke of York to pay his debts and died in 1835.

Croggon’s son Thomas John re founded the factory and the new company didn’t cease trading until 1977. Despite keeping the Coade Factory premises Thomas John went into business as an agent for , amongst other things, scotch whiskey, anchor chains, and eventually becoming a pioneer in the production of bituminous felt and the firm later also made wire netting.. It is presumed that any of the firms records surviving were destroyed in the blitz during the second world war.

FUNERARY AND OTHER COMMEMORATIVE MONUMENTS

There were funerary monuments available in Coade stone in many variations from a very large complicated standing wall monument such as that to General Bowes, 1812, in Beverly Minster to plain little plaques or Lunettes used set into natural stone grave markers.

Photograph: Peter Fairweather.
Angel figure on Lady Henneker's monument, see also the Father Timefigure.
Two of the finest examples of Coade Stone monuments of note: The tomb to Captain Bligh in St Mary’s Churchyard in Lambeth right next door to Lambeth Palace, and the figures on Lady Henneker’s monument in Rochester Cathedral (picture, left). Captain Bligh’s being outside in the elements whereas Lady Henniker’s on an inside wall. The figure of Father Time on the front picture of Alison Kelly's book is on the right hand side of Lady Henneker’s monument.

There are still quite a number of other commemorative urns & statues etc in various places. In 1785 Lord Yarborough put up an urn on a triangular pedestal supported on the backs of three tortoises. The inscription reads:- "To the memory of George Holgate of Melton a tenant and friend, who as a mark of gratitude and regard, bequeathed to him a small estate at Cadhay, and who deserves to be remembered in the class of farmers as a most excellent character, entirely free of affection of anything above that respectable station in life to which he was a great credit. He died in 1785".

 

Another three places where the same type of memorial occurs with just a slight variation of the urns and decorations. These are Mount Edgecombe in Cornwall, Stanmer Park in Sussex and Lucan House , Co. Kildaire. Eire.

Lawrence Castle in Devon has a castellated folly with a large Coade figure of General Stringer Lawrence dressed as a Roman Commander. This is a copy of a statue of him by Scheemakers the original of which was commissioned by The East India Company.

Statues of George III

Image kindly loaned by Douglas Hollings. In 1809 George III reached his 50th year of his reign and several places ordered copies of his statue after Weymouth in Dorset had ordered the original and erected it upon the esplanade. The king stands on a tall plinth and is brightly painted, flanked by a lion and Unicorn couchant and life size.
Image kindly loaned by Douglas Hollings.  

 

Southampton ordered one with the King as a Roman General in 1809. This apparently was a copy of one in the forecourt of Taplow Court, Buckinghamshire, dated 1804.

The statue of George III put up in Portland Square, Bristol didn’t last long however. It was late being ordered at first and an obilisk was erected instead and replaced by the statue in 1810. A man called "Orator" Hunt spoke to a crowd in favour of the Princess of Wales and against the Prince Of Wales and eventually it turned into a mob which pulled the statue down and so badly damaged it that it was never replaced.

Another statue of George III survives in pieces in Lincoln, Lincs. In the 18th century Sir Francis Dashwood erected a large masonry pillar at Dunston on the Lincoln to Sleaford Road and put a lantern on top. This was a sort of inland lighthouse to guide people over the heath. In 1810 The Earl of Buckingham replaced it with a statue of King George III in crown and robes some 15ft high. In 1940 He was unceremoniously pulled from the top along with several feet of the pillar because of a danger to low flying aircraft from the nearby airfield. The pieces were kept and eventually he was made into a bust of King George (the One Third) by a local monumental mason Mr John Ivory. Most of the other parts were too badly damaged to be re used. The detail of the robes and Garter Chain are still very impressive, the artist being Joseph Panzetta.
Photograph: Peter Fairweather.
Restored statue remains of George III from Dunston Pillar. Now in the grounds of Lincoln Castle.

Another very popular person much revered by the public was Nelson. Whilst his column and statue was not completed in Trafalgar Square until 1842, there was already on its way for erecting in 1808 in Montreal along with plaques for the plinth of a 50ft column. The plaques have been replaced and in 1981 the figure of Nelson was replaced by one of fibreglass.

The least known of the Nelson monuments is the unusual one at the Royal Naval College Greenwich. This is a very large pediment on one of the colonnaded areas. Benjamin West designed the whole pediment composition and it was modelled by Panzetta and West and took 3 years to complete. West received £1000 and Coade & Sealy received £2,584.

There was another Coade stone topped column at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. It has a ring of Victory Caryatids each holding a bronze wreath supporting a cornice which is topped by Britannia. These caryatids were replaced by concrete copies in about 1896 and in 1974 it was decided to replace Britannia with a fibreglass copy. When she was removed she just went to pieces although the head and helmet were able to be saved and used for the production of moulds.

The Coade Lion, Westminster Bridge

The Coade Lion, Westminster Bridge, South Bank, London. Photograph: Ron PearseTwo Lions, cast in Coade Stone from an original by William Woodington once adorned the Lion Brewery on the South Bank (London). One surmounted the building and a smaller one was situated above the entrance gate. After surviving the vicinity's destruction during the Second World War, the brewery was demolished in 1950 when the South Bank site was cleared for the 1951 Festival of Britain. Luckily, the two lions were saved, the large one at the request of George VI.

Today, the large lion is on permanent loan to the All-England Rugby Football Club at Twickenham, where it stands near the Rowland Hill Memorial Gate (Gate 3). After being located outside Waterloo station form 1951 to 1966, the small lion is now situated at the southern approach to Westminster Bridge.

There were other various column effigies and Lions, but I think I have covered enough to give one a good idea of what was produced, what survives and is covered by the book. Not cheap but excellent reading and reference material.


SOME LINCOLNSHIRE EXAMPLES.

BELTON HOUSE Near Grantham. Greenhouse, Dairy and Brownlow Chapel by Jeffry Wyatt.

BLOXHOLME. STMICHAEL’S CHURCH. North of Sleaford. General Manners’ Arms over the porch entrance. Signed Coade and Sealy. Lambeth 1812.

BROCKLESBY PARK. West of Grimsby. Holgate Monument (See above) Borghese Vase.

DUNSTON PILLAR. SE. of Lincoln on Sleaford Road. (See above) Shortened pillar only survives. See the Bust of King George III in Lincoln Castle grounds.

EDNHAM NEAR Bourne, Coat of Arms.

ST JOHN’S CHURCH. STAMFORD. Plaque of mourning figure with an urn. The inscription was changed before firing and the original text shows through !

SYSTON HALL. Near Grantham. Stone fountain with Greek design. Coade vase above. Rev Henry Thorold says "Beside the drive".

WEST ALLINGTON. HOPLY TRINITY CHURCH. NW of Grantham. Large heraldic shield in the church.

WILLINGHAM HOUSE. North Willingham near Market Rasen. Tetrastyle portico with ionic Coade capitals.1790.

 

Web sites for places with Coade Stone items:

 


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