Pots Of Interest
The ongoing excavations at the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel have yielded a small, but unique, collection of ceramics relating to the clear out of equipment from the hospital during the second quarter of the 19th century.
Specially commissioned blue and white transfer-printed white ware ceramics bearing the image of the London Hospital (as viewed from the NE) provide most of this assemblage. Supplied by one of the Staffordshire potteries, it is thought these were brought to coincide with the hospitals extension and rebuilding during the 1830s when it went through a corporate ‘make over’.
In addition to fragmented wash basins, saucers, plates and jugs found, the most frequent and well preserved vessels are the sputum mugs. Used to collect the patient’s phlegm, the water in the mugs distilled the contents which was concealed by a removable funnel. Nearly all these pieces have numbers ranging from 1 to 4 painted on the underside of their base - which probably indicates the individual ward or floor they belonged - to make sure each could be accounted for.
Other finds include fragments of bone syringe and groups of glass bottles marked 'STOLEN FROM LONDON HOSPITAL!'.
The most striking piece is the multi-coloured transfer-printed pot lid depicting a sick male with a gout sock, fishing. Produced by the Staffordshire firm of F. & R. Pratt of Fenton during the 1860s, the lids image is a reproduction of the ‘Gouty Angler’ painted by Theodore Lane in 1828 and would have been used to seal pastes or cosmetic preparations.
It is thought that that this material represents the first hospital assemblage recovered from archaeological excavations in London.