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Crocodile: C.98-1928

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Object information

Current Location: In storage




Potter: Bingham, Edward
Pottery: Castle Hedingham Pottery




Red earthenware covered with brown or clear glaze.

Large, modelled figure of a crocodile, its head raised and its tail curled over its back, standing among rushes on an oval base. The animal is covered with applied and incised ‘skin’ and the interior of its open mouth and its teeth realistically modelled. The rushes are suggested by flat strips of clay, which support the body. The base is flat; the underside is flat, rough and unglazed.


History note: Castle Hedingham Pottery. Bought there (from Mr Smith) on July 5 1907 for £1.10, by Dr Glaisher, Trinity College, Cambridge. According to Dr Glaisher’s notes, Mr Smith ‘of the Post Office’ was ‘in charge of the works’ after the pottery’s closure.

Legal notes

Dr. J.W.L. Glaisher Bequest, 1928

Measurements and weight

Length: 53.2 cm
Length: 21 in

Place(s) associated

  • Castle Hedingham ⪼ Essex ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

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


Circa 1875 CE - Circa 1905 CE


Dr. Glaisher bought the crocodile, and some twenty other pieces, on two visits to the closed pottery, and one to a London showroom, in July 1907. He describes it as ‘a striking piece and well modelled and different in character from most of Bingham’s work’. He had earlier bought several pieces, including an Essex jug in the Fitzwilliam collection (C.99-1928), from the potter himself in 1896. He notes the best of Bingham’s work as ‘ambitious and characteristic work as regards the design modelling’ and ‘really fine and would do justice to any potter’, but he also records several examples of glazing failures.

Edward Bingham (1829- 1914) was the son of a Lambeth potter who mainly produced functional wares. The business moved first to Gestingthorpe, Essex, and then in 1837 to Castle Hedingham. From c.1864 Edward Bingham produced ornamental ware, drawing on mediaeval and Tudor styles and notable for its size and exuberant relief decoration, which often includes modeled animals, birds or faces. He used the local terracotta and, later, clay from Devon. Until the mid 1870s, most Hedingham ware was unglazed, and Bingham supplemented income through various other work, variously as a shoe-maker, teacher, sub-postmaster and ironmonger. The pottery was most successful between c.1875-85, with up to 13 kilns operating, but afterwards trade flagged and in 1901 the business was sold, though it continued to operate as ‘The Essex Art Pottery’ until 1905. Bingham continued to make pots there, and then for a few months in a temporary workshop, before emigrating to join his family in North America in 1906.

Components of the work

Decoration composed of glaze ( clear/yellow or brown)

Materials used in production

Red earthenware

Techniques used in production

Modelling : Red earthenware, modelled and glazed

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.98-1928
Primary reference Number: 76489
Old object number: 2707
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 15 July 2020 Last processed: Wednesday 13 December 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 (2024) "Crocodile" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-04-21 12:48:30

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{{cite web|url= |title=Crocodile |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-04-21 12:48:30|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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