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The Red Barn: C.962-1928

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


The Red Barn


Unidentified Pottery




Earthenware table figure group, moulded and modelled, lead glazed and painted with polychrome enamels.

Staffordshire group of a thatched red barn flanked by two flowering trees, with a man opening the door and, in front, a woman in a floral dress tending two chickens at left, and a cow at right. The base of the scene, coloured green, has a 3-bow front, the centre section lettered ‘THE RED BARN’. It sits on a four-legged table base, painted brown, with a green top, and decorated with polychrome swags and a small brown moulded dog centre front. The back is almost flat, and painted. The underside of the base is recessed and flat, with two 1.7 cm diameter vent holes.


History note: Captain Reynolds Collection, London; sold to Messrs Gill and Reigate; Mr Stoner, London, from whom purchased in 1910 by Dr J.W.L. Glaisher, Trinity College, Cambridge. Dr Glaisher paid £125 for this and fourteen other pieces, as part of a purchase of 35 figures and figure groups.

Legal notes

Dr J.W.L. Glaisher Bequest

Measurements and weight

Height: 21.2 cm
Width: 26.6 cm

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1928) by Glaisher, J. W. L., Dr


19th Century, second quarter#
Production date: circa AD 1828


Earthenware figure groups were popular from around 1810, although the earliest examples date from nearly a century earlier. A cheaper alternative to porcelain figures, they were often produced by small potteries; very few are marked. Classical or literary subjects were frequently copied from porcelain examples, but potters increasingly turned to scenes from everyday life and topical events. These early figure groups are often complex, including modelled and moulded parts and applied decoration; the backs, though flat, are decorated; bocage (stylised foliage) is common on groups from c.1810-20. However, as demand increased, processes were streamlined to allow mass production and by c.1835 the earlier, relatively costly, methods had largely given way to three-part press-moulding.

Table groups, standing on four or six short legs, were made from c.1825-35; similar features suggest they were made by just a few makers. They have in the past been attributed to Obadaiah Sherratt of Burslem, but without clear evidence; they were probably made by a number of figure makers. However, similarities in the shape and colouring of this table base, the moulded dog ‘mark’ on the front and the bocage suggest this table base group was made by the same potter as two others in the Fitzwilliam Collection.

The group commemorates the murder of Maria Martin by William Corder in the Red Barn, Polstead, Suffolk in 1827. Reported in ‘The Times’ the crime became a national sensation. Some 10,000 people are reported to have attended Corder’s execution at Bury St Edmunds in 1828.

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamel ( green, yellow, red, brown, grey, black)

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production


Inscription or legends present

  • Text: THE RED/BARN
  • Location: On the front of the table base
  • Method of creation: Painted
  • Type: Inscription

Inscription present: a dog (greyhound); also a dot in same position on back

  • Location: Centre front of base
  • Method of creation: Moulded
  • Type: Mark

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.962-1928
Primary reference Number: 76461
Old object number: 3203
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 15 July 2020 Last processed: Tuesday 17 October 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2023) "The Red Barn" Web page available at: Accessed: 2023-11-29 16:46:59

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{{cite web|url= |title=The Red Barn |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2023-11-29 16:46:59|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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