Many of you were intrigued by the post on Mrs Eleanor Coade’s house, Belmont, in Lyme Regis, which I wrote last week. I thought you might like to know of this very reasonably priced book, published by Shire, which gives a very good over view of Mrs Coade’s life and works. Her “stone” ornaments were used extensively by Georgian architects and there are many, many examples of her works still surviving today- although because of their resemblance to stone it has sometimes been difficult to attribute them to her manufactory!
This book is only 48 page long but it is packed with information about Mrs Coade and her manufactory, dispelling some myths along the way. In particular, the story that Mrs Coades formula for her stone or Lithodopia,as she termed it, was a secret:
The formula for Coade stone was never a secret, as has sometimes been claimed. The architect, David Lang(1174-1856) who used Coade stone, described its composition in a book (1818) on his Custom House in London:”[Coade stone is] a material which, although composed of various ingredients, may be described as a species of terracotta. It combines in one mass pipe-clay, flint, sand, glass and stoneware that has already passed the furnace. These are ground to provide a very fine powder and are mixed in the proper proportions and the whole is kneaded together by means of the addition of water. In this stage it forms a kind of paste which has the ductility of clay usually employed in modelling”
The modelling procees used by Mrs Coade is explained, as is her use of sculptors, notably John Bacon and Joseph Panzettta. But what is most important and interesting to me is the second half of the book which is a gazetteer of the many of the Coade stone pieces that are still extant and are relatively easy to access. Among the examples listed are this amazing statue of George III at Weymouth, below. George III and and his family, Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax in Emma used to visit this seaside resort (though not at the same time!) and the statue dates from 1809. This photograph is reproduced with the very kind permission of my Twitter friend, Patrick Baty of Papers and Paints. Do click on it to examine the intricate detail of the piece.
Another very interesting example of Coade stone is the intricate and beautiful pediment in King William Court at the Old Royal Naval College Greenwich which was designed by one of Jane Austen’s favourite artists, Benjamin West. Joseph Panzetta modeled the piece, and a detail of the central section can be seen on the cover to the book at the beginning of this post. It depicts Britannia, representing Britain, receiving the dead body of Nelson from the sea-god, Neptune. Nelson’s body lay in state at Greenwhich when it was returned to England in 1806 after his death at the Battle of Trafalgar on October 21st 1805.
This was erected in 1813, and was one of the Coade factory’s largest and most ambitious commissions. It is 40 feet long and ten feet high. The Coade factory also made other Nelson monuments including the statue of Nelson for the Nelson column erected in Great Yarmouth in 1819.
If your appetite for more information on Eleanor Caode and her wares has been whetted by the post on Belmont in Lyme Regis, then I can throughly recommend this astoundingly reasonably priced book( £5.99) to you . I am keeping a copy in my car so that I can seek out Coade stone examples on my travels.