Aldourie Pottery

dores pottery

Examples of Aldourie Pottery garden pots

The Pottery at South Loch NessThe Aldourie Pottery was situated on the site of the present Dores Parish Hall, and was operational from around 1900 until 1905 at the latest. The driving force behind the project was Mary Watts, born Mary Fraser Tytler, whose family owned Aldourie. A more than competent painter in her own right, she married GF Watts, the famous 19th century English artist and, after her marriage, concentrated more on other forms of art, including pottery and highly symbolic work in other mediums, with a blend of art nouveau and Celtic designs.

Mary had started another pottery at Compton, the Watts’ home near Guilford, which from 1906 became the “Potter’ Arts Guild”, whose objective was to teach and encourage local people to develop their artistic skills. The same model was applied at Dores, and even the buildings were of a style more to be expected in Surrey than in Inverness-shire. (The pottery itself was accompanied by two houses, both recently demolished, known as “Pottery Cottage” and “The Chalet”.)

Pottery Cottage and The Chalet

It is probably due to the fact that the Watts’ spent more time at Compton than at Aldourie, that the production here did not last very long. Another reason may have been that, although some local clay was tried, it was found not to be suitable, meaning that material had to be brought in from Cumnock in Ayrshire, adding greatly to the cost of production.

 

Dores Pottery with Miss Robertson (top of stairs) and Mrs Edith Fraser Tytler

Louis Deuchars, who taught the local villagers at Compton to make pottery, was sent north by Mrs Watts in 1901 to do the same for local people in the Dores area. The Pottery was overseen by Mrs Edith Fraser Tytler, but managed by Miss Robertson. The building, occasionally used as the village hall until 1950, when it was demolished to make way for the present hall.

The output of the Dores pottery was mainly large garden pots, mostly identical to those produced at Compton, showing that the moulds must have been sent north. Some of these bear a “seal”, which is the same as the Compton mark, apart from the name of “Aldourie Dores” in the centre. The surrounding inscription reads “Their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.” Ezekiel 1.16.

 

Aldourie Pottery mark and a Cobra pot with the mark in the middle

Square flower boxes were also produced and some decorative panels, later used on the Dores War Memorial. Two tiles, dated 1902, bear a different name, ALDOURIE HOME ARTS POTTERY DORES Nr INVERNESS, possibly because examples of the pottery were sold at the annual Highland Home Industries Show in Inverness.

ALDOURIE HOME ARTS tile made from Cumnock clay and the Sinton wedding gift bowl

Now in Dunrobin Castle Museum, is another one-off design, a shallow bowl, which seems to have been designed as a gift for the Rev Thomas Sinton and his new wife Catherine Macpherson in 1903.

When the War Memorial Gate at the Dores Church was erected, two panels which were found in the pottery were used on the outer face. The designs, by Mary Watts, were the same as those on the Chapel at Compton. Unfortunately, the Dores ones did not survive the harsh weather, and fell off, leaving only two outer panels which had been made specially at Compton Pottery for the War Memorial. To mark the centenary of World War I, replica panels were made by Hathern Terra Cotta and installed on the arch in 2018.

Compton Cemetery Chapel doorway

 

Dores War Memorial at unveiling 1921

 

Survivors in front of Dores War Memorial at unveiling 1921

Back Row : John Shaw, Duncan Cameron, Alick MacDonald, James Macgillivray, George White

Front Row : John Cameron, D. Williams, Bob White, Bob Fraser, Duncan Johnston

Dores War Memorial arch with restored panels

More information about both potteries in Mary Seton Watts and the Compton Pottery by Hilary Calvert and Louise Boreham (2019).

 

9 Responses to Aldourie Pottery

  • I lived in Pottery Cottage from 1990 to it’s demolishment whereby building along with my partner Carmel Thompson Pottery House. I’ve been in New Zealand for 12 yrs taking with me a pot with writing on the inside exactly like the one on the right which in the near future I intend to return to John and Glyn at Pottery House. The last Laird of Aldurie Iaine Cameron gave it to me

    • Hello E.D. Cooper. Well I was looking at the website for Pottery and saw your comments. Hope all is well with you Duncan? Cannot believe it is 12 years since you emigrated. Pottery is looking amazing.

      Warmest wishes

      Carmel

  • I assume you need verification of my above comments. I was referring to Pottery House. Cores. Inverness. E.D. Cooper

  • Hi E.D. Cooper. A new book containing a chapter about the pottery is going to be published next year. I am very interested in the writing on the inside of your pot. Could you please tell me what it says?

    • This query seems to have been addressed to the guy who used to live at Pottery house. Since he has the pot I can’t say what the writing was, but I can and will advise LMB to ask Mr Cooper directly, through a reply to his original posting, but I’m not clear whether this actually goes to him, or just appears on the website page, where Mr Cooper may not see it. FYI there is writing on most of the pots, sometimes initials, presumably of the potter, but often “Cumnock” which is an Ayrshire pottery and may have been the source of the clay used at Aldourie, when the local clay was found to be unsuitable.

    • Hi. I was wondering if this book had been published yet.

      All the best

      • In March 2019 a new book, Mary Seton Watts and the Compton Pottery will be published. Mary was born Mary Fraser-Tytler, whose family owned the Aldourie estate at Dores. In addition to the Compton Pottery, she set up one at Dores and the new book contains a chapter on it. Further details will follow about price and where to buy it.

        • The book is now available, written by two lovely ladies called Hilary Calvert and Louise Boreham who’ve both stayed with us at The Pottery House B&B on several occasions.

          Google “Mary Seton Watts and the compton pottery”

    • From memory I vaguely remember words to the effect ‘I love you’. It was apparently to do with a wedding gift. But, no doubt E.D. Cooper has replied, and clarified these details. A while ago 2017 and I have only just come across these messages.

      Carmel Thompson

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