Friday, January 7, 2011

Flowerdew Collection

Driving to see this collection near Charlottesville, VA, was an amazing experience - I had an address and a google map but it was unexpectedly a lovely place to visit, with a gated entrance and a man in charge of visitors who welcomed me and gave me permission to proceed up the private driveway. What a start!

A fascinating trip to view some of this collection, held by University of Virginia, solidifies exactly the direct link between the tobacco and pottery trade between Bideford and the Eastern Seaboard of America.

Flowerdew Hundred dates back to c1620, is on the James River and was in essence a tobacco plantation and factory and saw the “transformation of English Settlers into Americans” (from Commerce and Conflict: The English in Virginia, Flowerdew Hundred Foundation). During a time of peace with the local tribes, there was an opportunity for the English to expand their settlements and for colonists to take over the Indian’s abandoned villages. Flowerdew Hundred was established in this way and was “one of the earliest and most important of the large, privately owned plantations established in Virginia during the tobacco boom years 1617-1625” (from Commerce and Conflict).

It also has some of the richest and best preserved English settlement sites in the US. There are many examples of pottery, mainly plainware in their collection. I visited Karen Shriver, curator of the collection near Charlottesville – Karen introduced me to the collection and then pulled a few pieces for me to see and photograph. These vessels included a lovely ballister pot, c1624-28, most likely used to transport butter; a milk pan base with a green glaze and several smaller gravel tempered sherds, some with a lead glaze c1650 -1775. All these pieces have been identified as originating from North Devon.

Photographs taken by Dave Green, with permission given to use them courtesy of The Rectors and Visitors of the University of Virginia