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HER Number:MDV813
Name:Brannams Pottery, Litchdon Street Pottery, Barnstaple


A pottery was operating in Litchdon Street from the 17th century until modern times. It was taken over by the Brannam family in the 19th century.


Grid Reference:SS 560 328
Map Sheet:SS53SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBarnstaple
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBARNSTAPLE

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • North Devon District Council Rescue Archaeology Unit Site Code: ND83
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS53SE/94
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II): 485664
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SS53SE68

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • POTTERY WORKS (Constructed, XVII - 1601 AD to 1700 AD (Between))

Full description

Carson, A., 05/10/1982, Ovens (Worksheet). SDV356769.

Notes from Pearse Chope's article which refers to an 18th century article about Barnstaple ovens. Barnstaple ovens were made in one piece from potter's clay and were apparently 'not only cleaner and cheaper than any other ovens. But bake with more eveness and certainty, and consume not a fourth of the fuel which is wasted in those of the ordinary fashion in London and elsewhere'. Cloam ovens were made at the Barnstaple potteries.

Cooke, P. + Hughes, S., 12/2015, Brannams Medical Centre, Brannams Square, Barnstaple, Devon (Report - Watching Brief). SDV359476.

Archaeological monitoring and recording associated with a proposed extension to the Brannams Medical Centre, Brannams Square, Barnstaple, Devon (SS 5607 3290) was undertaken by AC archaeology during November 2015. The work comprised the excavation of a trial trench measuring 10.5m long and 1.1m wide, which was positioned across the proposed extension footprint.

The archaeological investigations have exposed a small part of activities related to the former use of the site for Brannams Pottery production. Demolition material dated to the late 19th to early 20th century, and possibly relating to the clearance of outbuildings that formally occupied the site corresponds with the industrial development of the immediate site. The presence of a brick footing, almost certainly related to the former factory building that occupied the site represented the expansion of the Brannams Pottery in this period, as expanding from the, as then, established industry occupying the buildings fronting Litchdon Street. A dump of pottery wasters and kiln furniture, probably used as readily-available levelling material for the preparation of the site prior to construction of the former factory building has provided an assemblage that contains examples of the broad range of objects used for production as well as the final product.

Wood, J., 1843, Plan of the Town of Barnstaple from Actual Survey (Cartographic). SDV91852.

Pottery with one detached kiln shown on town plan of 1843.

Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

Pottery marked on 1880s-1890s 25 inch Ordnance Survey map on the east side of Litchdon Street.

Strong, H. W., 1889, Industries of North Devon (Monograph). SDV344437.

Ordnance Survey, 1904 - 1906, Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map (Cartographic). SDV325644.

Buildings shown in this location but not named on 1904-1906 25 inch Ordnance Survey map.

Charbonnier, T., 1906, Notes on North Devon Pottery of the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries., 256 (Article in Serial). SDV342234.

Pearse Chope, R., 1918 - 1919, Barnstaple Ovens, 303-4 (Article in Serial). SDV20471.

Manufacture and use of cloam ovens discussed with reference to 18th century article.

F.W.C., 1920 - 1921, Barnstaple Ovens, 257-9 (Article in Serial). SDV90932.

The manufacture by Brannam pottery of the distinctive cloam bread oven from entirely local materials continued still in 1920. An example is illustrated.

Keen, L., 1969, A Series of Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Lead-Glazed Relief Tiles from North Devon, 147 (Article in Serial). SDV15342.

A dated Pottery Guild sign now in C H Brannam's pottery in Litchdon Street in Barnstaple, shows that this pottery was in existence in 1675. Keen speculates that pottery may have been in production of relief tiles by 1601.

Phillips, R. H., 1971, The Bideford Pottery Industry, Part 2 (Article in Serial). SDV20477.

Bone, M., 1973, Barnstaple's Industrial Archaeology, 25 (Monograph). SDV78228.

The Litchdon Pottery of C H Brannam Ltd. There has been a pottery on this site since the 17th century although the present buildings date from 1886. At the end of the 18th century it was owned by Mr Lovering, but by the early 19th century both this pottery and the one at North Walk were in the hands of Rendle & Son. Thomas Brannam, an employee, first acquired North Walk and then this pottery, but it was his son who made the name of the firm (Original Art Ware). Queen victoria's patronage was acquired in 1855: hence the title Royal Barum Ware.

Minchinton, W. E., 1976, Industrial Archaeology in Devon, 19 (Monograph). SDV7016.

Timms, S. C., 1976, The Devon Urban Survey, 1976. First Draft, 73 (Report - Survey). SDV341346.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1978, SS53SE68 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV344436.

Barnstaple Potteries in Litchdon Street in Barnstaple were operated in 1879 by James Brannam and his son, Charles. The latter started a new factory which has a large circular kiln built circa 1900 with a beehive shaped chimney.

Brannam, P., 1982, A Family Business - The Story of a Pottery, 6-116 (Monograph). SDV72968.

The Rendel family had two potteries in Litchdon Street which they had bought from the Loverings in 1830. Thomas Brannam had bought the Litchdon Street pottery by 1840 and it remained in family hands until it was sold in May 1979 to Candy and Co. of Newton Abbot. The development of the business and the premises is discussed in detail. The buildings consisted of a shop, house, pigeon houses and office as well as extensive manufacturing structures. Of five kilns described, only one was in existence by about 1879. Two brick kilns still survive although modified and oil-fired. The shop and dwelling were improved in late 19th century, from when the existing street elevation dates. Ground floor plans of circa 1879, 1918, 1945 and 1970's are given along with many photos of work in progress and sample wares. Good photos of street elevations in 1937 and 1950's.

Hunt, P. J., 1987, An Assessment of the Archaeological and Historic Significance of the Litchdon Street Potteries, Barnstaple (Report - Assessment). SDV344443.

The Litchdon Street Potteries are a unique feature in the historic town of Barnstaple.

Timms, S., 1987, The Archaeology of North Devon Towns (Un-published). SDV354573.

Clark, C. M. + Horton, M. C., 1988, C. H. Brannam's Pottery: An Evaluation of its Significance (Report - non-specific). SDV344440.

Early pottery making in Litchdon Street in Barnstaple. The first reference to Litchdon dates to 1400, when accounts of the Guild of St Nicholas show payments for houses and land in Litchdon Field, but there is no reference to pottery making. This seems to have begun in the 17th century and sherds of pottery wasters of sgraffito have been reported from Litchdon Street on the Brannams site. A potter named Geo. Wilkey (born in 1598) was known as the Litchdon potter and must have operated here or nearby. Rate book entries suggest that pottery making continued at lLtchdon in the hands of a father and son, Anthony Bass. There is a lease dated 1761 which includes reference to a house, potters kiln and two fields in Litchdon Street, operated by Wm Cooke and Maria Ackland. This pottery is not on a map of 1830 of Barnstaple although a complete frontage is shown along Litchdon Street. But this cannot be taken as evidence that the pottery works had ceased as this map is very schematic.
The Loverings are recorded as operating a pottery in 1830 when they sold it to Elias Rendel. This is almost certainly the same pottery shown on a detailed town plan dated 1843, in the present position of the Brannam works. Included are two long ranges of buildings, entered from the street, with a kiln shown on or close to the site of kiln number 1. The property boundary at the end of the plot is however very much shorter than the present area occupied by the works. The land beyond was open space as far as Trinity Street. Pottery in Barnstaple was traditionally made form a clay pit in the parish of Fremington the same source of clay as is presently used in pottery manufacture and near the site of the proposed new works.
Brannam's Pottery was leased around 1840 by Thomas Brannam of Bideford and he was joined by his son Charles in 1875. They made country pottery, drains, bricks and roofing tiles. The pottery was rebuilt between 1843 and 1886. In 1886 the Litchdon works were taken over by Charles Brannam and it was rebuilt. Again in 1889 the workshops were extended and 1903 the frontage was extended in yellow and red brick. This elaborate frontage was common and was an early example of industrial tourism. The pottery gained Royal patronage from Queen Victoria which spurred demand for the art pottery. By 1904 the works expanded into the open land between it and Trinity Street. This land was leased and then bought on 20 July 1914.

North Devon District Council Rescue Archaeology Unit, 1990, Archaeology in Barnstaple: 1984-90, 22-4 (Report - non-specific). SDV342524.

The earliest kiln had originally been constructed outside the buildings but by 1886 it had become enclosed within the workshops. It continued in use until its demolition around 1910. Excavation revealed the octangonal rubble and brick foundations of the updraught kiln. The second kiln was built circa 1900 to the north-east of the first originally as an updraught kiln but later converted to a 'Minton' downdraught. A further three kilns were built on the site with two still in occasional use until 1971 although they had been converted to oil firing in 1963. The older of these two has been retained within the later development of the site.

Clark, C. et al, 1990, C. H. Brannam's Pottery, Barnstaple (Article in Serial). SDV344438.

Pottery manufacturing process and equipment subject of detailed record prior to relocation of business in 1989.

North Devon District Council Rescue Archaeology Unit, 1991, North Devon Archaeological Site Code Index, Site Code ND83 (Report - non-specific). SDV63429.

Watching brief on a section of side wall at Brannams Pottery in Litchdon Street carried out in 1986.

Collings, A. G., 1998, Archaeological Assessment of the New Bus Station at Albert Lane Car Park, Barnstaple (Report - Assessment). SDV336397.

ASI Heritage Consultants, 2000, Leaderflush and Shapland Site, Barnstaple: Archaeological Assessment (Report - Assessment). SDV70999.

Ordnance Survey, 2010, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV344030.

English Heritage, 2012, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV348729.

Litchdon Pottery including bottle kilns and all buildings on the site, 10 and 11 Litchdon Street. Showrooms and pottery. Showroom to left of Litchdon Street frontage 1886-7. By WC Oliver of Barnstaple. Former showroom to right may be slightly earlier. Pale cream brick with horizontal bands and window arches of red brick; stone and terracotta detailing. Slated roofs with crested red ridge-tiles, except for the right-hand showroom, which is covered with corrugated asbestos. Cream brick chimney on each side wall, the left-hand chimney with ornamental pots. Buildings consist of showrooms on Litchdon Street frontage, the right-hand side converted to storeroom. In centre an archway with building above, leading to warehouses, 2 bottle kilns and other industrial buildings in 2 long wings at rear. The site extends back to Trinity Street. Showrooms on frontage are in 2 parts: 2-storeyed range to left, extending over archway, 3-storeyed range to right. The left-hand range, which is the better of the 2, is 4-window range. To left, 2 large display windows, the glass in upper part decorated with foliage and, in gilt lettering, the inscriptions reading BY APPOINTMENT TO H.M. THE QUEEN and BY APPOINTMENT TO H.R.H. PRINCESS CHRISTIAN. Doorway with pointed arch on splayed corner to right. Above, across whole front, an entablature with coved underside and frieze of terracotta panels decorated with flowers and foliage. Upper storey has mullioned-and-transomed window, also with coloured glass. The terracotta frieze is continued below it, and at either side are more terracotta panels decorated with birds and squirrels. Above window on the roof, a goblet with imitation timber framing. Range to right is 2-window range in 2nd storey, the left-hand window set in the splayed corner. Ground storey has been altered, but on the splay is a blocked doorway with moulded stone 2-centred arch enclosed by a rectangular carved stone frame. 2nd-storey windows are of 2 lights to left and 3 lights to right. These have chamfered mullions and moulded pointed arches of stone, the latter with relieving arches of red brick; in the heads of the arches are red and crack-glazed tiles decorated with flowers and foliage. 3rd-storey has 3 windows, each of 2 lights with plain stone mullions; cill-band of glazed blue tiles. Heavily moulded top cornice of stone and brick with imitation mechicolations. INTERIOR and rear buildings not inspected, but left-hand showroom retains some of its original decoration. This may be the showroom refurbished in 1903; ceiling of `Tynecastle' in Louis XV style, anaglypta frieze by Owen Davies of London, who designed pottery for Brannam's. HISTORICAL NOTE: the pottery dated from at least 1830, possibly from C17; it was acquired before 1840 by the Brannam family who ran it until 1979. It is now owned by Candy & Co Ltd of Newton Abbot. Date listed: 11th March 1987.

Southwest Archaeology, 2013, Greater Barnstaple Area Project Database, Mapping Area 74, BHBS 432 (Un-published). SDV351581.

Ordnance Survey, 2013, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV350786.

Disused kiln marked adjacent to medical centre.

Morris, B., 2017, The Missing Link - the Exeter Inn, Barnstable: North Devon Pottery in the 16th century, 271-338 (Article in Serial). SDV364161.

Unknown, Unknown, Former Brannams Pottery Site, Litchdon Street, Barnstaple (Ground Photograph). SDV346781.

Photographs showning original shopfront, gate and lobby entrance.

Friends of Archaeology ND, Unknown, Historic Barnstaple (Leaflet). SDV356772.

Exeter City Council, Unknown, North Devon Pottery (Leaflet). SDV355422.

The Litchdon Pottery benefitted from the patronage of Queen Victoria and from 1855 they retailed their art pottery under the name of 'Royal Barum Ware'. The design of the pottery was mostly in the typical art pottery style, with vivid colouring and an often rather confused mingling of Japanese, Persian and classical motifs.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV15342Article in Serial: Keen, L.. 1969. A Series of Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Lead-Glazed Relief Tiles from North Devon. Journal of the British Archaeological Association. 32. Photocopy + Digital. 147.
SDV20471Article in Serial: Pearse Chope, R.. 1918 - 1919. Barnstaple Ovens. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 10 Part 1. Unknown. 303-4.
SDV20477Article in Serial: Phillips, R. H.. 1971. The Bideford Pottery Industry, Part 2. Devon Historian. 3. Unknown.
SDV325644Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1904 - 1906. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336397Report - Assessment: Collings, A. G.. 1998. Archaeological Assessment of the New Bus Station at Albert Lane Car Park, Barnstaple. Exeter Archaeology Report. 98.58. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV341346Report - Survey: Timms, S. C.. 1976. The Devon Urban Survey, 1976. First Draft. Devon Committee for Rescue Archaeology Report. A4 Unbound + Digital. 73.
SDV342234Article in Serial: Charbonnier, T.. 1906. Notes on North Devon Pottery of the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries.. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 38. A5 Hardback. 256.
SDV342524Report - non-specific: North Devon District Council Rescue Archaeology Unit. 1990. Archaeology in Barnstaple: 1984-90. North Devon District Council Rescue Archaeology Unit Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. 22-4.
SDV344030Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2010. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #108050 ]
SDV344436Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1978. SS53SE68. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV344437Monograph: Strong, H. W.. 1889. Industries of North Devon. Industries of North Devon. Unknown.
SDV344438Article in Serial: Clark, C. et al. 1990. C. H. Brannam's Pottery, Barnstaple. Ironbridge Institute Research Report. 55. Digital + A4.
SDV344440Report - non-specific: Clark, C. M. + Horton, M. C.. 1988. C. H. Brannam's Pottery: An Evaluation of its Significance. Digital + A4.
SDV344443Report - Assessment: Hunt, P. J.. 1987. An Assessment of the Archaeological and Historic Significance of the Litchdon Street Potteries, Barnstaple. North Devon District Council Report. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV346781Ground Photograph: Unknown. Unknown. Former Brannams Pottery Site, Litchdon Street, Barnstaple. Photograph (Paper) + Digital.
SDV348729National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2012. National Heritage List for England. Website.
SDV350786Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2013. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital.
SDV351581Un-published: Southwest Archaeology. 2013. Greater Barnstaple Area Project Database. Greater Barnstaple Area Project. Digital. Mapping Area 74, BHBS 432.
SDV354573Un-published: Timms, S.. 1987. The Archaeology of North Devon Towns. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV355422Leaflet: Exeter City Council. Unknown. North Devon Pottery. Exeter Museums Publication. 80. A3 Folded + digital.
SDV356769Worksheet: Carson, A.. 05/10/1982. Ovens. Worksheet + Digital.
SDV356772Leaflet: Friends of Archaeology ND. Unknown. Historic Barnstaple. Leaflet + Digital.
SDV359476Report - Watching Brief: Cooke, P. + Hughes, S.. 12/2015. Brannams Medical Centre, Brannams Square, Barnstaple, Devon. AC Archaeology. ACD1259/2/2. Digital.
SDV364161Article in Serial: Morris, B.. 2017. The Missing Link - the Exeter Inn, Barnstable: North Devon Pottery in the 16th century. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 75. Paperback Volume. 271-338.
SDV63429Report - non-specific: North Devon District Council Rescue Archaeology Unit. 1991. North Devon Archaeological Site Code Index. North Devon District Council Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. Site Code ND83.
SDV7016Monograph: Minchinton, W. E.. 1976. Industrial Archaeology in Devon. Industrial Archaeology in Devon. Paperback Volume. 19.
SDV70999Report - Assessment: ASI Heritage Consultants. 2000. Leaderflush and Shapland Site, Barnstaple: Archaeological Assessment. ASI Heritage Consultants Report. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV72968Monograph: Brannam, P.. 1982. A Family Business - The Story of a Pottery. A Family Business - The Story of a Pottery. A4 Stapled + Digital. 6-116.
SDV78228Monograph: Bone, M.. 1973. Barnstaple's Industrial Archaeology. Barnstaple's Industrial Archaeology. A5 Paperback. 25.
SDV90932Article in Serial: F.W.C.. 1920 - 1921. Barnstaple Ovens. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 11 Part 1. Unknown. 257-9.
SDV91852Cartographic: Wood, J.. 1843. Plan of the Town of Barnstaple from Actual Survey. Unknown.

Associated Monuments

MDV104805Parent of: Kiln outside the Medical Centre near Brannams Square, Barnstaple (Monument)
MDV126501Parent of: Pottery waste and kiln furniture on land at Brannams Medical Centre, Brannams Square, Barnstaple (Monument)
MDV19244Related to: 1-12 Ceramic Terrace, Trinity Street, Barnstaple (Building)
MDV19243Related to: Devon Art Pottery, Pilton, Barnstaple (Monument)
MDV15273Related to: Rendles Pottery, North Walk, Barnstaple (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4622 - Archaeological Significance of Litchdon Street Potteries, Barnstaple
  • EDV6927 - Monitoring and Recording, Brannams Medical Centre, Brannams Square, Barnstaple, Devon (Ref: ACD1259/2/2)

Date Last Edited:Feb 25 2021 10:23AM