Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Etruria, Wedgwood, Freemasonry and architecture

Etruria Old Road in Stoke-on-Trent reveals hints of its rich industrial past and cultural heritage; the area was the undisputed centre of pottery-making during the late eighteenth and nineteenth century, the Wedgwood factory making many types of Masonic pottery from jugs, mugs and plates. Though Josiah Wedgwood was not a Freemason, he was an erstwhile member of the Lunar Society and knew many Freemasons, such as Erasmus Darwin and Benjamin Franklin. Wedgwood was also a Dissenter and an abolitionist. His son, Josiah Wedgwood II, was a Freemason, being a member of the Etruscan Lodge which met at the Old Bridge Inn at Etruria.

The area became not just a thriving industrial centre but a cultural centre also, with Wedgwood promoting education, religious worship and effectively created one of the first industrial villages for his workers, building workers' cottages in the area. There are still some fine historical buildings on Etruria Old Road, as seen below, and there is a lodge that currently meets in Stoke-on-Trent called Josiah Wedgwood Lodge. For more information on the Wedgwood family and Freemasonry see The Transformation of Freemasonry by David Harrison.

Etruria Wesleyan Chapel on Etruria Old Road, built in 1820. There was a Sunday School located at the back of the building.

A corner pub on Etruria Old Road and Etruscan Street, the 'Holy Inadequate', still going strong, dating from the mid Victorian period.

Once called Etruscan Villa and also known as Etruria Cottage, this is a mid-nineteenth century house on Etruria Old Road.
There are many surviving examples of Wedgwood ware such as the jug above,  that are illustrated by Masonic transfers. These were popular during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, being used by lodges at the festive board and in Table Lodges. Some examples, such as the jug above, commemorated the particular lodge. Scottish Rite Museum.
A Jasperware Wedgwood plate commemorating 150 years of Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society.

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