William Hogarth Trust
registered charity no.1092251

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Birds in pots

The bird bottle (top right) on the 19th century Bell & crown print

Treve Rosoman, our late Vice-Chairman, was THE expert on the 18th century home, its furnishing and equipment. Lars Tharp, formerly one of WHT’s trustees, has become THE expert in all kinds of ceramics relating to Hogarth. Treve spotted bird pots in 18th century prints and with Lars’ help the Trust was able to commission a small batch of hand-made terracotta bird pots, replicas of those used in 18th century London. We have since also spotted one on the wall of the Bell & Crown at Strand on the Green in a mid-19th century print.

One was placed high on the facade of Hogarth’s House in 2011, but no-one has yet moved in! The pots were to be sold to raise funds, but few were bought. We hope they will be on sale again when the House re-opens.

One bird pot was bought for a Chiswick garden and has since been ignored, but another went to an Isleworth garden and we are delighted to report that a robin has this spring made a nest in this pot.

The bottles have a wide open front throught which the bird can enter, with a lug and a hole supporting a twig as a perch. The hollow flat side, which hangs against the wall, is open so that the bottle beside a window could be lifted off its nail for the householder to take the eggs or the fledglings to eat. A cheap source of food in the past but not today!

Robin in Isleworth bird pot 2020, photo by Stephen Hine

Read Roy Stephenson’s fascinating piece on bird bottles from London excavations in the London Archaeologist Vol 6 (12), pp. 320-321.