The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Emma Bridgewater


We have a small range of our own mugs in the cottage. Sadly Danny dropped his favourite a few weeks ago and has moved his second favourite into the odds on position. I have mugs of different sizes for distinct times of day. A capacious Cath Kidston strawberry crush mug mug for early morning tea (Twinning’s Assam with one teaspoon of sugar and a little milk) and a few mugs given to me by special friends and my mum. A particular favourite is a porcelain Bee mug that mum bought from the National Trust shop. But we don’t have any Emma Bridgewater pottery as I’ve always thought it was a bit pricey.

Most of my wealthier clients have Emma Bridgewater pottery in their houses. A lot of them favour the mugs with birds. Some just have them on display – they’re extremely decorative. My favourite by far is the range of robin mugs, I never tire of them even if I am drinking tea from them for months.  Some of my more discerning clients offer afternoon tea with biscuits. One of my favourite clients always gives me her robin mug.

I discovered the reason for the cost of Emma Bridgewater pottery this at the weekend. I was browsing on YouTube and found this fascinating video about her factory in Stoke on Trent. I didn’t realise is that she uses traditional methods in her factory. Everyone on the video looks happy and took pride in their work which is something to be admired in any business. I was delighted to discover that she is employing 180 skilled craftsmen in the UK. Which is something to be applauded.

Each item goes through a big range of processes before being decorated by hand so every piece is just that tiny bit different. Browsing on the Emma Bridgewater website the pottery didn’t seem as expensive as they have done before. She also has an outlet shop – where she sells seconds  with rave reviews from her customers. So when I next have a windfall I’m going to visit her outlet shop and invest in my very own robin mug.

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  1. Hello, I’ve been reading your blogs and recipes for some time (and made your last minute christmas cake this year, my first ever successful fruit cake and all thanks to you!) but thought I’d comment on this….. I’ve always loved Emma B but have never been able to afford any, my mugs are a lovely ramshackle assortment of ones gathered and given here and there.

    I did however venture to her ‘seconds’ store before christmas with a friend and ended up buying a couple of tins, some childrens forks to use as cake forks (a bargain at £2 each!) and a couple of mugs. My mugs just had two tiny pin pricks in the glaze which so you can barely see with the naked eye! You can ring the seconds store and the staff will describe any faults and post the items if you don’t live near Stoke (a friend put me onto this one, she says they are super helpful!)

    Tea from a special cup does taste so much more special- not sure how that happens though!

  2. Ah Fiona! I’ve missed you. Robins are my favourite birds and I love the Emma Bridgewater Robin series. I really wanted a set of the Robin mini mugs with candles in for Christmas, but they sold out. I don’t own any Emma Bridgewater but said that I’d wanted to collect it for years. I hadn’t because I felt it was too self indulgent. But actually… owning something which is crafted by real crafts people in the UK isn’t self indulgent it’s just keeping things alive. Much better to spend a little more on something beautiful which means something than spend less on something made in China. Hope you are well. xx

  3. Small Pines

    There are a few potters in our area that I really like, and really need to get into. Perfect reminder. I also have always loved the idea of art and decoration being functional. Happy Holidays, and have a grand Yule!

  4. I dont have any EB mugs but I do have a rather lovely one that is bone china. Tea tastes so much better from that cup, than any other mug

  5. I am a huge fan & have a growing collection of mugs & a lovely starry butter dish thats often admired,I love her ethics & the fact its homegrown :o)
    The robin was the first mug I bought, I use my mummy one with hearts for my first cuppa then the robin one for the next one & various other birds as the day goes on
    GTM :o)

  6. Jane Weston

    I really enjoyed that video…and I’m so thrilled that she is running the business in the UK in Stoke…just as it should be.

    Had to smile about your comment about the different mugs depending on the day…I do that too… :o)

  7. I think William Morris said it the best “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”


  9. Although the spotty mugs have become slightly ubiquitous in my part of north London I still love them! And EB made my favourite wrapping paper this Christmas – reversible robins, adorable!

  10. magic cochin

    We’ve been collecting Emma Bridgewater mugs over the years – I usually get one (sometimes two) from Cliff for my birthday 🙂

    We started with fruit – plums, olives, figs. But now we love the birds – my favourites are the Bullfinch and the Yellowhammer. I like to use the Barn Owl for evening drinks.

    I didn’t realise there was an outlet shop – as we’re going to be travelling past Stoke on Trent in a few weeks time, I’ll definitely take a detour – thank you for the link.

    Raising my Yellowhammer mug of Clipper Organic Tea

    BTW – a collection of different bird mugs is very useful when making tea for lots of visitors – when you get re-fills you ask them to remember which bird they are 😉

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