Like many people of their generation, my grandparents had the full set of Woods Ware china, in ‘Beryl’ peppermint green. It popped up elsewhere in my childhood, too – in the village hall kitchen, in the canteen at Primary School, beside the tea urn in our local hospital– but it’s the nostalgic memories of tea time in Bromley, at 6pm on the dot, that make this my favourite kind of china. I only have to glance at it and I can hear the shipping forecast playing in the background, taste the slices of soda bread and picture the gingham table cloth.
Manufactured by Stoke-On-Trent pottery Wood & Sons from 1940 onwards, it comes in three pretty pastel colours: ‘Iris’ blue, ‘Jasmine’ yellow and ‘Beryl’ green – the most common colour and the type I collect.
It’s not keep-it-in-the-cabinet precious china – it’s the built-to-last-so-use-it type, so we whack it out every day and simply replace anything that gets broken; Inexpensive pieces are always available at IACF fairs, car boot sales and charity shops. The lidded soup tureens are infinitely useful, the teacups so comfortable to hold, the egg cups so pleasing and perfectly formed – and the generous teapot pours better than any other I’ve used.
I recently interviewed a homeowner and antiques fanatic in London for Homes & Antiques magazine who had amassed an amazing collection of Woods Ware and displayed it in reclaimed pharmacy shop cabinets in his kitchen. Struck by the contrast of the pastel china against the dark wood, I’ve attempted (unsuccessfully) to recreate this effect at home in my 1950s larder cabinet. I think I need a bit more Beryl to ‘get the look’ properly. Husband says: we’ve got plenty. But we will see…