In 1865 Royal Worcester made an exquisite gilded and jewelled tea service as a wedding gift commissioned by the City of Worcester Corporation for Georgina, Countess of Dudley, on the occasion of her marriage to William Ward, 1st Earl of Dudley. She was a Scottish beauty born in Perthshire and was 18 when she wed the Earl who was 48, having been a widow for 14 years after the early death of his first wife. She was described by the Times newspaper:
Her loveliness was something quite apart. … her exquisitely shaped and poised head, her flowerlike complexion, her matchlessly beautiful eyes, her dignity of carriage, even in early youth, made her fame to ring through Europe.
This déjeuner or breakfast service comprised a teapot, sugar pot, cream jug, and cups and saucers. The exterior surfaces were entirely gilded and then decorated with a network of droplets of turquoise and gold enamel jewels. These were all applied with precision and uniformity by the skilled hand of gilder Samuel Ranford. In the centre are medallions painted by leading factory artist Thomas Callowhill. These classical female portraits were intended as a tribute to the beauty of the new Countess.
The Earl, one of Royal Worcester’s Board of Directors, was so impressed with the service he ordered another one to be made to show off the factory’s ability. This was displayed in the 1867 Paris Exhibition and is the one now preserved in the Museum’s collection today.
Artist: Gilder Samuel Ranford/ Painter Thomas Callowhill
Material: Bone China
Factory: Royal Worcester
From the Archive
Showstopper sponsor: Anja Potze Fine Jewellery
“I have had so much inspiration for my own designs by simply walking round the Museum and being wowed by the styles, shapes and colours. I could not resist sponsoring my own choice of Showstopper pot. I love the feeling that I’m part of all this history and I’m so excited to see which companies pick which pots!”