The Bears of Nottingham

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Bears of Nottingham' page

Nottingham brown stoneware

These distinctive brown stoneware beer jugs in the form of a bear were produced in Nottingham in the 18th century.

I've seen them in museums in various parts of the country and, of course, in Nottingham's Castle Museum.  They seem to vary a bit in design, so does anyone have one at home they can send us a picture of?

Of course the stoneware makers of Nottingham produced a range of other household wares - storage vases, cups, jugs and bowls - usually with an almost metallic lustre peculiar to themselves.  But is probably the 'bear jugs' which attract our curiosity today.

In most cases they take the form of a bear in sitting posture with a chain attached to the collar, and a staff or a small club held firmly between the front paws (although, having said that, the one pictured here has neither!).

The body is roughened with a coating of fragments of dry clay.  The body held the beer, with the removable being the drinking cup.  They are generally said to have been popular in the late 17th and well into the 18th century.

Similar bear-jugs were made by the Brampton pottery in Chesterfield and at the Staffordshire potteries, so if anyone owns one of these jugs and can send us a photo please email it to



This page was added by Website Administrator on 14/09/2020.

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.