Royal Worcester was established in 1751 and is believed to be the oldest or second oldest remaining English porcelain brand still in existence today (this is disputed by Royal Crown Derby, which claims 1750 as its year of establishment). Part of the Portmeirion Group since 2009, Royal Worcester remains in the luxury tableware and giftware market, although production in Worcester itself has ended.
Technically, the Worcester Royal Porcelain Co. Ltd. (known as Royal Worcester) was formed in 1862, and wares produced before that time are known as Worcester porcelain, although the company had a royal warrant from 1788. The enterprise has followed the pattern of other leading English porcelain brands, with increasing success during the 18th and 19th centuries, then a gradual decline during the 20th century, especially the latter half.
In the 20th century, Royal Worcester’s most popular pattern has been “Evesham Gold”, first offered in 1961, depicting the autumnal fruits of the Vale of Evesham with fine gold banding on an “oven to table” body.
Ruth van Ruyckevelt ( 1931 -1988 )
Ruth Levett was born of mixed French and Polish parentage at Raynes Park, London in 1931. At the age of 14, she became the youngest ever accepted student at Wimbledon School of Art, where she specialised in costume and spent many hours studying in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
She qualified as a designer and illustrator in 1952 and following her marriage to Ronald van Ruyckevelt, started freelance work for Royal Worcester Porcelain in 1955. Together they worked on the wonderful series of Limited Edition Victorian and Edwardian ladies, Ruth’s expertise and knowledge of period costumes being particularly appropriate. They also produced a set of four Nursing Sisters, in later years never agreeing who designed which figure! Much confusion has arisen over the work of this talented couple and the Royal Worcester Company eventually put the name ‘R van Ruyckevelt’ on the figures so as not to offend either modeller.
The couple ran their own studios in Malvern during the 1970s, producing a number of china models of flowers on marble bases, which were sold through Royal Worcester showrooms. Ruth also worked for Dent’s Gloves as head designer, designed gloves for Christian Dior of Paris and was on the staff of Malvern Girls College and Malvern College of Art.