Mug shots from Hornsea

Over the long Bank Holiday weekend we pootled out in the trusty camper van for a days ‘thrifting’ in our favourite haunt of St Leonards and Hastings in Sussex. Rain stopped play, we got thoroughly soaked when the heavens opened, and our day only resulted in a couple of Hornsea mugs but they are special and we are delighted.

We began collecting Hornsea pottery back in the 90’s and have always loved the mugs designed by John Clappison in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  I have an affection for Hornsea Pottery (which was on the Yorkshire coast between Hull and Scarborough and is now closed) as a trip to the ‘seconds’ shop was always a treat with my Grandparents and resulted in a gift of one of the mugs that are now so collectable. In fact I re-bought one of my childhood mugs when Clappisons work was still unknown a few years ago, a lovely design of paper chain men in Thames green and blue.

One of our mugs, an early carboot or junk shop find still has the price on the bottom, 50p. Now prices even in the junk shops of St Leonards are 10 times this and I see there is a Hornsea Pottery museum which we must go to next time we are up to our Yorkshire family. Somehow there is something very satisfying seeing things that you started to collect when people considered them worthless now celebrated and in a museum!

Anyway here are a few close-ups of the three Hornsea star sign mugs for your enjoyment.. Leo, Libra and Aries.


About TheBigForest

TheBigForest. A silly artist maker creating in felt and paper construction. Like us on Facebook: TheBigForest. Find us at Twitter : twitter/TheBigForestuk


  1. Would love to see your other pieces. Bet you have some beauties.
    I picked up this mug in a charity shop recently:
    Never seen that particular design before, so I was rather pleased.

    • Mmm its nice isnt it. In the kind of orangey glaze that Katrina talks about, below. Ive never seen the design before. Its a great feeling when you find something unexpected in a charity shop.

  2. I’m a big fan of some of the 1960s and 70s Hornsea pieces. My dad had the Leo mug and I had the Aries one (though mine didn’t last long). I think my all-time favourite Hornsea range is Springtime.

    • Yes Springtime is lovely – we have a salt and pepper pot from the range. I can see that I need to do a proper post about hornsea with some of our other pieces. Another blog post to add to the ever increasing list of things to talk about!

      • I recall seeing a mention of Hornsea Pottery in Elle Deco a while back. The funny thing was, the magazine is so London-centric they spelled it “Hornsey”! Nothing good can possibly come from north of London, obviously!

  3. hehe… LOVE the lion =D

    • He’s great isn’t he. We love the expression, a sort of grumpy surprise as if someone has woken him up……….but then he sees they have bought a cup of tea!

  4. Fab!! I used to have that Clappison Aries mug in beige (my Mum bought it for me, because I’m an Aries)…loved it but didn’t appreciate it’s value at the time…alas, it got a death crack and a chip and is no longer with us :0( I keep an eye out on ebay but they’re few and far between, and much coveted it would seem!! One day though…anyway I now have a reasonable collection of Bronte, Heirloom (some green) and Saffron (which I didn’t used to like but is now my favourite in all it’s orangey 70’s flowery loveliness!), with a few random bits dotted around (Mermaid conserve pot and little tobacco pot are my favourites) – lovely stuff!! Would love to see your collection in more detail and must also get some pics of mine…that’s a nice project for today actually…thanks TheBigForest!! XXXX

    • Hello fellow Aries! We have huge amount of heirloom in green which we use as our everyday china but I must get out the rest of the Clappison mugs. We have also got some 70’s Hornsea birds and other stuff. My other favourite ceramics are by Mymolle from Denmark. We have one of their Hede Nielsen picture plates on display in TheBigForest hut at the moment as inspiration. Whilst Hornsea are practical clear cut designs the Neilsen pictures are the really trippy bit of late 60’s early 70’s!

  5. Witchmountain

    These are great! I was taken to the Hornsea pottery once, in about 1987. Don’t remember anything as nice as these though.I wonder when it closed down….

    • 1988 apparently so it must have been on its last legs when you visited. By that time they were doing dinner services for M&S and such like. I think Horsea is rather love/hate stuff, although when its good and full on 60’s and 70’s it really catches the spirt of the time.

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