We collect Enoch Wood Grapevine Border Series transferware. They are blue and white dishes from 1820 and feature scenes of English Castles and Manor Houses. The border of these pieces are a grapevine transfer. On the back of most of the pieces is the name of building and it’s county. The image usually comes from an engraving in a series of books by John Preston Neale. He went around the countryside drawing the houses and writing a description for the books.
When we tour around England on antique buying trips, we try to stop at an “Enoch Wood” grapevine house that we have in our collection. Most of the houses have either been destroyed, are ruined or completely gone, but some are still standing and it’s our mission to visit them and photograph them.
During our September trip, we wanted to see Goodrich Castle, Herefordshire. Now, we don’t have a dish with that name on the bottom, but we do have a Goodridge Castle, Kent soup plate and Goodridge does not exist. We couldn’t find a Goodridge Castle, no matter where we looked. So, we thought maybe the Wood Pottery, got the name wrong.
Before we went to the England, we did our research. The books do not have an engraving of a Goodridge. The internet was no help, because the scene on our dish did not match etchings of Goodrich Castle, nor did the internet know of a Goodridge Castle. The description of Goodrich Castle on the internet kind of made us think that perhaps, Wood got it wrong, since there were references to Goodrich being associated with both counties, Herefordshire and Kent.
So, either way, we headed for Goodrich, hoping that it would be incorrectly identified as Goodridge and we’ll have checked another of our scenes off our list.
Our first stop was to the gift shop. English Heritage cares for Goodrich Castle, as it does for over 400 properties, and their staff is quite knowledgeable about the properties history. Unfortunately, none of them recognized the scene we showed them of our dish, although they agreed that the church was in the right place and so was the river. They went into their storage room and pulled out various engravings, but none of them matched. They were very helpful, but not helpful at all. So, we headed out of the gift shop and up the gravel road to the actual castle.
We were excited to see it in person. Of all the castles we’ve seen, we crawled over every inch of it, from the furthest point in the moat to the highest tower. It is a beautiful, but forlorned ruin. It was built in the 1101 as a hill-top castle, and suffered during the English Civil War in 1646. It was slighted (meaning it was made inhabitable) in 1647, so it could never be used against the royals again. In 1919, a huge chunk of the walls fell in and what was left of the castle was dangerous to visit.
So, this is what we think. We believe that Goodrich, Herefordshire is the correct label for the soup plate labeled Goodridge, Kent and Enoch Wood got it wrong. The label on the bottom of our soup plate should have said Goodrich Castle, Herefordshire. From 1616-1740, the owners of Goodrich Castle was a line of succession of the Earl of Kent. Hence, the county of Kent comes into the picture (Goodridge, Kent). And during its history, Goodrich had been called Guthridge Castle for a period of time. There are many deviations on the name Goodrich, including Goodridge and Guthridge (Goodridge, Kent)
We also believe the artist took liberties with their drawing, getting the aspect wrong. The elements in the transfer are correct but the angle is skewed. We think the artist stood in the sw corner of the site and sketched the castle from the moat area and then drew in the people by the river in the foreground. You can stand in the moat and the windows of Goodrich Castle match with the transfer of Goodridge Castle.
Maybe we’re wrong, but we love playing detective and solving mysteries, especially ones that don’t have a dead body. And we did look in the bushes, just to make sure.
This is our sixth blog on our September trip. One more to go!