Etruria Hall

Designed by Joseph Pickford and constructed between 1768 and 1771, Etruria Hall was both Wedgwood’s family home and affirmation of his social standing in the Potteries.

Positioning his house in view of his factory, Wedgwood was also able to remind his workforce of his presence. In later years, the proximity of the hall to the works would cause offence to the second and subsequent generations of Wedgwoods.  Their education had taught them to despise the industrial roots of their wealth.

Etruria Hall, is now in its fourth century and currently utilised as one of the Great Western hotels, the Moat House. Since its construction it has enjoyed many different usages. As well as the family home for three generations of Wedgwoods, it has also housed a girls’ school and the headquarters for Shelton Bar Iron and Steel Company. Throughout these changes it has had wings added and removed – most significantly when it became the focal point of the Garden Festival in 1986 and efforts were made to return it to its original form.

James Bakewell’s Queen’s ware plaque of 1774 depicts the hall as planned by Pickford and Wedgwood – a solid three-storeyed Georgian brick building with stone dressings and a slate roof.  The building has five bays containing windows with stone architraves and sash windows.

In August 1780, two wings were added to provide bed chambers for Wedgwood’s growing family and a chamber for Alexander Chisholm – Wedgwood’s assistant and chemist. At the same time, a schoolroom and billiard room were added together with a new drawing room measuring 30 feet by 20 feet long.

Wedgwood’s commonplace book contains notes about the water closet which was also a feature of his mansion.

There are tantalising descriptions by artists such as John Flaxman of his purpose made elaborate interior decorations for the hall.  There are also strong intimations that Angelica Kauffman contributed to the artistic embellishments within the hall. Sadly, all such decoration has long since gone.  However, one year before Josiah’s death in 1794, the ‘Gentleman’s magazine’ commented: “And we now behold this exquisite composition not only ornamenting the ceilings and chimney-pieces of Mr. Wedgwood’s own house, but many others in the country”. Presumably, this would have referred to the jasper plaques and panels made available by Wedgwood in the style of Adam.  Nevertheless,  it remains for speculation as to whether Flaxman and Blake ever received payment for drawings and paintings  for the ceiling between 1784 and 1785 or indeed, whether the work was ever actually done.

Documentation relating to the building of his home captures Wedgwood’s vulnerability despite his incredible success as a pioneer and a business-man. Arriving home from a long and dirty journey in November 1769, He writes of his delight at having found Sally and the children “at Etruria to take possession of the Etruscan plains” to “sleep upon them for the first night”. They have saved Josiah the unenviable task of moving house.

 The hall has yet to be completed when Josiah reveals the discomfort of any oridinary human being, writing to Bentley in August 1780: “We are still open to the sky, in our kitchen, which though the weather is as fine as could be wished for is nevertheless an uncomfortable situation for animals whose nature urges them to go through the drudgery of eating three or four times a day – oh! For the sleep of a dormouse, or the life of a toad in a stone for a few weeks till our troubles are past – and we safely cover’d in from the wind, and open air again." 

In Depth

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  • Painting on tile of Etruria Hall. Aka 'Stringer Plaque'; James Bakewell, 1773., © Wedgwood Museum

    Painting on tile of Etruria Hall. Aka 'Stringer Plaque'; James Bakewell, 1773.

  • Wooden engraved print block of Etruria Hall. c.1770, Illustration used in 'The Life of Josiah Wedgwood' by Eliza Meteyard, vol 2, fig.19 (p129), © Wedgwood Museum

    Wooden engraved print block of Etruria Hall. c.1770

  • Print taken from a pencil sketch of Etruria Hall c.1770, © Wedgwood Museum

    Print taken from a pencil sketch of Etruria Hall c.1770

  •  To Mr Bentley. Building operations at Etruria; page 1 of 2, E25-18222, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Building operations at Etruria; page 1 of 2

  • To Mr Bentley. Building operations at Etruria; page 2 of 2 , E25-18222, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Building operations at Etruria; page 2 of 2

  • To Mr Bentley. Thomas Wedgwood to help On the Etruria works; Page 1 of 4, E25-18230, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Thomas Wedgwood to help On the Etruria works; Page 1 of 4

  • To Mr Bentley. Thomas Wedgwood to help On the Etruria works; Page 2 of 4, E25-18230, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Thomas Wedgwood to help On the Etruria works; Page 2 of 4

  • To Mr Bentley. Thomas Wedgwood to help On the Etruria works; Page 3 of 4, E25-18230, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Thomas Wedgwood to help On the Etruria works; Page 3 of 4

  • To Mr Bentley. Thomas Wedgwood to help On the Etruria works; Page 4 of 4, E25-18230, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Thomas Wedgwood to help On the Etruria works; Page 4 of 4

  • To Mr Bentley. Building operations at Etruria progressing; Page 1 of 4, E25-18237, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Building operations at Etruria progressing; Page 1 of 4

  • To Mr Bentley. Building operations at Etruria progressing; Page 2 of 4, E25-18327, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Building operations at Etruria progressing; Page 2 of 4

  • To Mr Bentley. Building operations at Etruria progressing; Page 3 of 4, E25-18237, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Building operations at Etruria progressing; Page 3 of 4

  • To Mr Bentley. Building operations at Etruria progressing; Page 4 of 4, E25-18237, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Building operations at Etruria progressing; Page 4 of 4

  • To Mr Bentley. Bricklayers still at Etruria, E25-18253, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Bricklayers still at Etruria

  • To Mr Bentley. Returning home to find family settled at Etruria; Transcription, page 1 of 2, E25-18268, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Returning home to find family settled at Etruria; Transcription, page 1 of 2

  • To Mr Bentley. Returning home to find family settled at Etruria; Transcription, page 2 of 2, E25-18268, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Returning home to find family settled at Etruria; Transcription, page 2 of 2

  • To Mr Bentley. Removing to Etruria Hall soon and wanting two rugs to cover floors there; Page 1 of 4, E25-18322, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Removing to Etruria Hall soon and wanting two rugs to cover floors there; Page 1 of 4

  • To Mr Bentley. Removing to Etruria Hall soon and wanting two rugs to cover floors there; Page 1 of 4, E25-18322, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Removing to Etruria Hall soon and wanting two rugs to cover floors there; Page 1 of 4

  • To Mr Bentley. Removing to Etruria Hall soon and wanting two rugs to cover floors there; Page 3 of 4, E25-18322, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Removing to Etruria Hall soon and wanting two rugs to cover floors there; Page 3 of 4

  • To Mr Bentley. Removing to Etruria Hall soon and wanting two rugs to cover floors there; Page 4 of 4, E25-18233, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Removing to Etruria Hall soon and wanting two rugs to cover floors there; Page 4 of 4

  • To Mr Bentley. Thanks Bentley for his house warming wishes; Etruria Hall not yet finished. Page 1 of 2, WM-1441, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Thanks Bentley for his house warming wishes; Etruria Hall not yet finished. Page 1 of 2

  • To Mr Bentley. Thanks Bentley for his house warming wishes; Etruria Hall not yet finished. Page 2 of 2, WM-1441, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Thanks Bentley for his house warming wishes; Etruria Hall not yet finished. Page 2 of 2

  • To Mr Bentley. Josiah wishes to have a stove grate for his best room at Etruria Hall., WM-1441, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Josiah wishes to have a stove grate for his best room at Etruria Hall.

  • To Mr Bentley. Kitchen at Etruria Hall not yet roofed; Stubbs modelling horses. Page 1 of 3, WM-1441, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Kitchen at Etruria Hall not yet roofed; Stubbs modelling horses. Page 1 of 3

  • To Mr Bentley. Kitchen at Etruria Hall not yet roofed; Stubbs modelling horses. Page 2 of 3, WM-1441, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Kitchen at Etruria Hall not yet roofed; Stubbs modelling horses. Page 2 of 3

  • To Mr Bentley. Kitchen at Etruria Hall not yet roofed; Stubbs modelling horses. Page 3 of 3, WM-1441, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Kitchen at Etruria Hall not yet roofed; Stubbs modelling horses. Page 3 of 3

  • To Mr Bentley. Building drawing-room; Extension of two uniformed wings at Etruria Hall, Page 1 of 2, WM-1441, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Building drawing-room; Extension of two uniformed wings at Etruria Hall, Page 1 of 2

  • To Mr Bentley. Building drawing-room; Extension of two uniformed wings at Etruria Hall, Page 2 of 2, WM-1441, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Building drawing-room; Extension of two uniformed wings at Etruria Hall, Page 2 of 2

  • To Mr Bentley. Meeting with carpenter to discuss additional wings to Etruria Hall with sketch; Page 1, WM-1441, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Meeting with carpenter to discuss additional wings to Etruria Hall with sketch; Page 1

  • To Mr Bentley. Meeting with carpenter to discuss additional wings to Etruria Hall with sketch; Page 2, WM-1441, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Meeting with carpenter to discuss additional wings to Etruria Hall with sketch; Page 2

  • To Mr Bentley. Building of the additions to Etruria Hall still on going; Stubbs to paint his portrait soon. Page 1 of 3, WM-1441, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Building of the additions to Etruria Hall still on going; Stubbs to paint his portrait soon. Page 1 of 3

  • To Mr Bentley. Building of the additions to Etruria Hall still on going; Stubbs to paint his portrait soon. Page 2 of 3, WM-1441, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Building of the additions to Etruria Hall still on going; Stubbs to paint his portrait soon. Page 2 of 3

  • To Mr Bentley. Building of the additions to Etruria Hall still on going; Stubbs to paint his portrait soon. Page 3 of 3, WM-1441, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Building of the additions to Etruria Hall still on going; Stubbs to paint his portrait soon. Page 3 of 3

  • To Mr Bentley. Building work and layout of the two wing extension of Etruria Hall. Page 1 of 3, WM-1441, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Building work and layout of the two wing extension of Etruria Hall. Page 1 of 3

  • To Mr Bentley. Building work and layout of the two wing extension of Etruria Hall. Page 2 of 3, WM-1441, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Building work and layout of the two wing extension of Etruria Hall. Page 2 of 3

  • To Mr Bentley. Building work and layout of the two wing extension of Etruria Hall. Page 3 of 3, WM-1441, © Wedgwood Museum

    To Mr Bentley. Building work and layout of the two wing extension of Etruria Hall. Page 3 of 3