Lake's Cornish Pot

When modernism goes bad
Circa 1920s
W.H Lake and Son
Lake's Cornish Pottery
Manufacturers Location
Truro, Cornwall (U.K)


Three handled earthenware pot with ochre glazed interior, marked to the base.


None, good condition except slight discolouration of the earthenware.

Why it's in the Collection

The Lake’s Pottery (1872 - 1990's), Truro was a traditional, basic country ware producer where Bernard Leach initially learnt how to make handles, a dominant feature in British folk pottery with the multi-handled loving cups etc, which are entirely absent from Japanese tradition; “…his (Leach) handles were very, very poor and he went to a local pottery, and then they started to get better.” Emmanuel Cooper.

Leach, his two sons and the apprentices were regular visitors to Truro where they would watch the two potters Barry Pascoe and Henry Venn at work. Venn was the thrower and Pascoe pulled the handles.

The pot is a good example of a basic multi-handled style which Leach wished to develop within his own work. It is a key addition to the Lawson Park collection, and can be linked as a significant artistic influence on the work of Bernard Leach, one of the most pioneering figures in the revival of pottery in the 20th century.

About the Manufacturer

W H Lake and Son founded their pottery in Truro, Cornwall, in 1872. It is said that there had been potteries on the site going back to medieval times. The company produced attractive earthenware pots. It is particularly noted for its large bowls and pancheons, made for an age when outside toilets, copper wash boilers and coal- or wood-fired kitchen ranges were the order of the day; when home baked loaves were the daily bread. These pots, in that era, were essentials of domestic life. The pottery's output was prolific -- it served the entire Cornish community.

Master thrower, Henry Venn had previously owned his own pottery in Truro, but following the end of World War One, and the shortage of men that it caused, he went to work for Lake's in 1920 taking handle-maker, Barry Pascoe with him.

In 1920, Bernard Leach, when explaining to the people of St Ives the type of work that would be carried out at his new pottery, cited a Lake's pot as the type of product that he wanted to make.

Leach’s previous teaching post at Dartington Hall must have had some influence over The Dartington Trust’s decision to rescue the dwindling business in 1973. However, on 26 Dec 1975, there was a serious fire at the Pottery. Despite the damage done, the Pottery struggled on for a few more years until it closed in 1980.

Bibliography & Further information

Emmanual Cooper on Bernard Leach