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Ceramics highlights in the National Trust's collection

A covered Japanese porcelain bowl in the collection at Sizergh Castle, painted in enamels with red and orange flowers among foliage, mounted in silver
A Japanese ceramic bowl in the collection at Sizergh Castle | © National Trust Images/Robert Morris

The National Trust’s ceramics collection is a vast and encyclopaedic treasure trove, with approximately 75,000 ceramic objects in our care. Discover 11 highlights collected from around the world, learn about historic ceramic repairs, and delve deeper into the unique collection here.

A Ming dish from a Mughal Treasury
On display at Wallington in Northumberland is a Ming dynasty dish, made in the early 15th century – almost two centuries before Chinese porcelain began to be exported to England. It may have been a gift from a Chinese diplomat to the Delhi Sultanate, and later became part of the treasury of Shah Jahan, Mughal emperor of India from 1628–1658. It was acquired by Sir Charles Edward Trevelyan, 1st Baronet of Wallington, when he was governor of Madras in 1859–60.See the Ming dish
A porcelain bowl made in Japan
In the collection at Sizergh Castle in Cumbria is rare relic of the Stuart court in exile – a porcelain bowl made in Japan. The silver mounts, added in Paris, convert the bowl into an 'écuelle', a high-status bowl for bouillon (broth). It belonged to Lady Strickland of Sizergh Castle, who fled to France as part of the English court in exile following William III’s seizure of the throne.See the Japanese bowl
Two Delft flower pyramids at Dyrham Park
As a result of the Glorious Revolution, many examples of Dutch pottery are found in historic English houses, painted to resemble Chinese porcelain imported through Holland. There are two Delft flower pyramids at Dyrham Park with seven trays for holding water, which were used for holding brightly coloured flowers through the changing seasons.See the pyramid vases
Detail from a Delftware flower pyramid at Dyrham Park in Bath. 'Amorini' (infant cupids) are arranging flowers in an urn, framed by classical architecture.
Detail from one of Dyrham's flower pyramids | © National Trust Images/Robert Morris
23 pieces of Italian Renaissance maiolica
Maiolica is a form of tin-glazed earthenware that flourished in Italy during the 15th and 16th centuries. Of the 23 pieces of Italian Renaissance maiolica at Polesden Lacey, four are signed by the prolific and masterly painter Francesco Xanto Avelli. At the time, it was unprecedented for maiolica painters, indeed for any pottery worker, to sign their work.See the Maiolica
Lady of the Order of the Pug
Since its creation, the Meissen figure of the Lady of the Order of the Pug has been the prized possession of many collectors, including the previous owners of Fenton House, London. Elevated on a square pedestal, the noblewoman holds in her arms a pet pug with a pink collar, while a pug in a blue collar relaxes at her feet. The Order of the Pug was a secret Masonic-style society and its emblematic pug symbolised loyalty, devotion and fidelity.See the Meissen figure
The Lady of the Order of the Pug, a porcelain figure of a woman in a large dress posing
A Meissen porcelain figure of the Lady of the Order of the Pug modelled by Johann Joachim Kandler, Germany, c. 1745. | © National Trust Images/Robert Morris
A French-style perfume jar at Upton House
In the collection at Upton House in Warwickshire is a perfume jar deriving from the ‘pot-pourri à jour’, a model introduced from the French manufactory of Vincennes around 1752 and later copied at Chelsea. The elaborate handles of pierced and interlaced scrollwork imitate French rococo ormolu, the decorative use of gilt brass to imitate gold. The voyeuristic subject matter is the most erotic ever painted on English porcelain…See the perfume jar
A 68-piece dessert service from Sèvres
Knole in Kent is home to an elaborate 68-piece dessert service, with a central rose motif bordered with turquoise and gold garlands. At the end of the Seven Years’ War between France and England, British Francophiles flocked to Paris, and for those in aristocratic circles, the purchase of a porcelain table service from Sèvres was a must. John Frederick Sackville, 3rd Duke of Dorset was no exception, and purchased this set for Knole in 1770.See the dessert service
A close-up of a Sevres ceramic table service displayed in a glass cabinet, including plates, dishes and tea cups with a white background and blue and gold detailed pattern.
The Sevres table service on display at Knole | © National Trust Images/Robert Morris
Basalt figure of Triton
In the collection at The Vyne, Hampshire, is a Wedgwood and Bentley black basalt figure of Triton, which took inspiration from the work of Roman baroque sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini. Black basalt has a lustrous sheen and its unfired, powdered ‘bronze’ finish is well suited to imitate antique metal. This sculpture is thought to have been acquired by John Chute, who may have seen Bernini’s originals when in Italy with Horace Walpole in the 1740s.See the figure of Triton
An Arts and Crafts ceramic dish
William De Morgan was an inventive ceramic designer who became fascinated by lustrous metallic glazes and ultimately rediscovered the art of lustre decoration in 1874. The year before, he became a neighbour of the Scottish essayist and historian, Thomas Carlyle. On display at Carlyle’s House in London is one of De Morgan’s dishes, painted in ruby-red and gold lustres with a rampant lion.See the ceramic dish
A William De Morgan lustre-painted earthenware dish with heraldic lion, from the collection at Carlyle's House
A De Morgain ceramic dish in the collection at Carlyle's House | © National Trust Images/Robert Morris
An ancient Greek water pot
In the collection at Charlecote Park, Warwickshire, is an ancient Greek vessel known as a hydria, which was designed to carry water. With two carrying handles and a third at the back for pouring, it is an example of the type of Attic black-figure ware collected in Victorian England and displayed in dedicated rooms, libraries or long galleries as objects for intellectual enquiry.See the Ancient Greek pottery
A surviving stoneware water dropper
The first object to be salvaged by archaeologists after the fire that engulfed Clandon Park on 29 April 2015 was a stoneware water dropper in the shape of a duck, made in Korea over 600 years ago. The duck had fallen from the first floor, dodging a collapsing wall, falling roof and ceiling to land safely about 40 feet away. It was originally used by Asian scholars to create and dilute ink for calligraphy and painting. A remarkable survival.See the water dropper

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