Unidentified factory, production, England, Staffordshire, nearlydone
Potash Farm was the home of James Blomfield Rush, who murdered his landlord, Isaac Jermy, the Recorder of Norwich, following a dispute over Rush’s £5,000 mortgage. On 28 Nov 1848, Rush went to Jermy's home, Stanfield Hall, shot Jermy and his son dead, and wounded his daughter-in-law and a housemaid. Rush was hanged at Norwich Castle on 21 April 1849.
The trial was widely reported. ‘The Illustrated London News’ carried an engraving of Stanfield Hall on 8 December 1848, and of Potash Farm on 31 March 1849. This model is a pair to a model of Stanfield Hall, which is also in the Fitzwilliam collection; a further companion piece, Norwich Castle, has also been identified. The date of the trial and execution indicate that the set was made in 1849. The Farm and Hall appear in several variations, which shows both their popularity and that they were made by several factories. In addition to the three model buildings, figures were made of Rush and his mistress, Emily Sandford. Together they form a potter’s narrative of the event.
Rackham (1935) lists this figure as of a type made chiefly by Sampson Smith at Longton, a factory listed in contemporary directories as a ‘manufacturer of figures in great variety’, which began around 1851 and continued to make figures in quantity into the early part of the twentieth century. Sampson Smith figures typically have a flat back and plain oval base, often with a gilt script title, although the decoration with shards of clay would be unusual for their figures. Meanwhile, there were many other manufacturers of figures working in Staffordshire at this time.
J. W. L. Glaisher
Victorian Staffordshire figure; category
flat-backed figure; category
mid 19th century; Victorian
White earthenware model building moulded in three parts, with small shards of clay added to decorate. Painted with black, brown, blue, green, buff and orange-red enamels, and gilt.
The oval base is flattened at the back; the front is inscribed ‘Potash Farm’ in gilt script. The top of the base is moulded and painted to suggest lawn, with a small flight of steps and two reclining animals. The model is well coloured. The three storey house has twelve windows, arranged symmetrically around a red front door; red and blue flowers wind around the door and climb up the front of the house. The thatched roof is painted in a combed pattern of buff and brown; roughly edged in green and orange-red shards; and topped by a red chimney. There is a low extension to the viewer’s right, with a similar roof and chimney, three windows and a red door. Except for the chimneys, the back and sides are unpainted. The underside is concave and glazed, with an arrow-shaped vent hole in the middle. The back is flat.
press-moulding; whole; in three parts, with small shards of clay added
white earthenware; whole
enamels; decoration; black, brown, blue, green, buff and orange-red
White earthenware moulded in three parts, with small shards of clay added to decorate. Painted with black, brown, blue, green, buff and orange-red enamels, and gilt. The underside is concave and glazed, with an arrow-shaped vent hole in the middle. The back is flat.
height, whole, 20.5, cm
height, whole, 8.5, in
width, whole, 21.5, cm
width, whole, 8.5, in
depth, whole, 7, cm
depth, whole, 2.75, in
bequeathed; 1928; Glaisher, J. W. L., Dr
Mr Levine at Norwich. Bought on 25 May, 1918, with model of Stanfield Hall, for £3.10/- (£3 ten shillings) the pair, by Dr Glaisher, Trinity College, Cambridge. Dr Glaisher notes that this ‘was very cheap. For I have been asked more that this for Potash Farm alone’.
Rush, J. B.
Punch commented, on another set of models made to scale in Norwich: ‘Art steps in as handmaiden to Murder […] models of Stanfield Hall and Potash Farm for the gratification of of the sight-seers […] could Stanfield Hall and Potash Farm have been by any means brought to the vicinity of London, there is little doubt that the spirit of the day would have made them a most profitable investment, adapted and laid out as tavern, tap, and tea-gardens […]’ (Punch, 28 April 1949, p.155,171). Another Punch article, sub-titled ‘every incident in the most appalling tragedy of real life recorded in the annals of crime’, and sold for one penny a copy. Several ballads of the time also attest to the extraordinarily high profile of the trial.
Dr. J.W.L. Glaisher Bequest, 1928
title; front of base; painted in gilt; Potash Farm; the front is inscribed ‘Potash Farm’ in gilt script
label; underside of base; handwritten in black ink; No.4138. Staffordshire model of Potash Farm where J B Rush lived, who murdered Mr Jermy at Stanfield Hall in 1848. b. at Norwich, May 25, 1918; Rectangular paper label, handwritten in black script
Rackham, Bernard. 1935 (reprinted Antique Collectors' Club, Woodbridge, 1987). Catalogue of the Glaisher Collection of Pottery and Porcelain in the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge.Cambridge (Cambs.): Cambridge University Pressp. 131
Publ. Vol. I, p.131, no. 1015A
Rhead, George Woolliscroft. 1920 . The Earthenware Collector.London: Herbert Jenkins Ltdp. 59
Pugh, P. D. Gordon. 1970. Staffordshire Portrait Figures and Allied Subjects of the Victorian Era.London: Barrie & Jenkinsp. 556
Cf. Plate G20, Fig.44: a very similar 8 ½ model, shown as a set with Norwich Castle and Stanfield Hall. Pugh notes the existence of a smaller, 5 ¼ in, version of this model. Also, other differently modelled versions of the houses; a figure of J.B.Rush; and an engraving of Potash Farm from The Illustrated London News, 31 March, 1849.
The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery. Staffordshire Portrait Figures
. The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery
Harding, A and N. 1998. Victorian Staffordshire Figures 1835-1875, Book Two: religious, hunters, pastoral, occupations, children & animals, dogs, animals, cottages & castles, sport & miscellaneous.Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishingp. 272-3
Cf.Fig 3146: a very similar 8 ½ model and also an engraving of ‘Potash Farm, the residence of Mr J.B.Rush’ (not the same as that in the Illustrated London News, above). Also, Fig.3147: Stanfield Hall, a pair to this model; an engraving of Stanfield Hall; and several different models of Stanfield Hall.
Housman, Henry. 1893. Notes on the Willett Collection of Pottery at the Brighton Museum.Brighton: Smith, W. J.p. 46
Ref: an account of the murder, noting that related figures were already in the Willett collection (now in Brighton). [see Glaisher note]
C.1015A-1928; Stanfield Hall
Object Number: C.1015B-1928
(record id: 71143; input: 2004-03-11; modified: 2018-01-16)