Hill China Clay Project
pottery and house which is also the site of his large anagama kiln
is situated at the foot of Tregonning Hill the
location of the first true China Clay deposit discovered in Great
Cookworthy, Quaker and Chemist arrives
in Plymouth from London in 1726 establishing himself in premises
on Notte Street. For the next 10 years he travels widely throughout
Devon, Somerset and Cornwall with his ointments and potions. On
these journeys he learns to read the landscape, the flora, fauna
and above all in Cornwall the industry of mining and the processes
of extracting metals, tin, copper silver and lead, the geology that
underlies the land. He is living in the age of wonder, the golden
age of the Royal Society, a new world of scientific discovery and
experimentation, journals and books. He reads extensively. As an
apothecary, his mind was trained to weigh, to measure, and to inquire.
One fateful day he reads Du Halde's book on China and he comes to
chapter 6 'Of the Porcelain or China-ware' it is the moment his
life changes. In the two letters of Père d'Enrecolles about
Jingdezhen, d'Enrecolles writes of Porcelain that is made up of
two kinds of stone that must be refined, mixed together and fired
with sufficent heat. The two kinds of stone, are kaolin and pertunse.
Cookworthy at this moment undestands and knows the secret of porcelain.
In his years of traveling and of observing, Cookworthy had perhaps
seen fine white clay being used to repair fissures between furnace
bricks, knowing it was commonly used. The other vital material petunse
known in Cornwall as soap rock was already known and highly prized,
it was already being used in the factories of Chelsea, Bow and Worcester.
The genius of Cookworthy was to realise that this was the two materials
needed to make true eastern porcelain.On
Tregonning Hill, Cookworthy found deposits of white clay and takes
away samples to test, he afterwards discribes it such,'in the parish
of Germo, on a hill called Tregonnin hill'.
There are two kinds of rock that he found on Tregonning Hill, a
kind of granite locally known as growan or moorstone,(petunse) and
the other a pure white clay (kaolin)
learn more about the history of Porcelain, read Edmund de Waal "The
White Road, a pilgrimage of sorts", which my piece draws heavily
on. The book is beautifully written and researched. Part Three,
The Birth of English Porcelain is a wonderful piece of writing,
eloquent and erudite.
More about Cookworthy HERE