Kingston has a strong decorative arts tradition, particularly in ceramics. A busy pottery industry was based here in the 13th and 14th centuries, making Kingston-type Surrey whiteware to provide Londoners with jugs, dishes and other crockery. Made of pale coloured clay, many of these vessels were glazed green. Some were decorated with faces, like one on display in the Town of Kings Gallery.
Another highlight is the Marsh Collection of ceramics which includes Martinware and 20th century studio pottery by Bernard Leach and William Staite Murray. Donor Ernest Marsh was a local collector and renowned art expert. He was friends with the Martin Brothers, who created unique ceramics called Martinware at their pottery in Southall between the 1880s and 1920s. The grotesque ‘Wally Bird’ snuff jar and pots shaped like gourds are a must-see.
Art Nouveau designer Archibald Knox taught student Denise Tuckfield (later Wren) at Kingston School of Art between 1907 and 1912. Denise Wren went on to establish the Oxshott Pottery in the village of Oxshott, Surrey, making and selling brightly glazed tableware during the interwar period. From the late 1950s she became known for her saltglazed stoneware.