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.
In the nineteenth century, renaissance ceramics were highly collectable and increasingly rare. European ceramicists and factories began making contemporary versions to meet demand.
At the Great Exhibition of 1851, Minton of Stoke-on-Trent launched their relief-moulded, brightly-coloured, lead-glazed earthenwares, under the name ‘Palissy’ after the sixteenth-century French potter of the same name. A critical and commercial success, production soon spread to other pottery factories.
Simultaneously, Minton and other factories produced lead-glazed versions of Italian renaissance maiolica which, by the nineteenth century, was also known in Britain by the anglicised name of majolica. The two styles developed over the century resulting in some of the boldest designs of the Victorian period, particularly suited to highly decorative interiors and for use as functional tablewares.