PENICUIK PLATES & ASHETS

 

       

 

Jane Kelly: Penicuik Pottery at Valleyfield House

off 17 High Street Penicuik EH26 8HS

 

“…LOVE the plates, bowls and mugs…they are pretty much my favourite things ever…They are so beautiful they manage to transport a mundane weekday baked potato and beans into a work of art!”

 


Hand-thrown plates in the Penicuik Blue tradition


They say Penicuik Blue Paper was taken on the Darien expedition to Central America three hundred years ago.  Blue paper was commonly used for keeping records in the Navy, as a wrapper for sugar refined from the cane plantations of Jamaica, and as touchpaper for gunpowder.   Rags were collected and sorted in Leith and brought in huge cartloads to Penicuik for further sorting by colour and quality in wooden sheds at Valleyfield, where they were then soaked and pounded to fibre, using the pure waters of St Mungo’s Well for the mix and the power of the River Esk to drive the great mill wheels and belts.

French artisan tradition was strong at the Valleyfield mill, where the papermaking rooms were known as salles.  At Valleyfield House, Marjorie Cowan (brought up in France in Jacobite exile) would have called her big plates ashets like most other Scots.

Penicuik paper in those days was made by hand – so too is today’s Penicuik pottery, which has been made for more than 25 years here in Valleyfield House on the potter’s wheel.  Traditional Blue stoneware and blue decorations remain popular today. 

 

Bosphorus print crockery fragments
Valleyfield House, Penicuik

Long after Marjorie Cowan, these are fragments of the Bosphorus crockery

used here at Valleyfield House in Victorian times, probably from Jameson & Co.

 

 

PENICUIK POTTERY HOMEPAGE

 

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