Freddie the tramping potter could drink a gallon of cider
Honiton museum curator Margaret Lewis
- Credit: Honiton museum
This vase is definitely a one-off. It was hand thrown, painted, and signed ‘Freddie Jeanes’ at Honiton Pottery in 1919. The pot is well thrown, the black matt background is unusual, but the decoration is basic.
More interesting is its creator. Frederick Sayers Jeanes and his twin brother Alfred Francis were born in Bedminster, Bristol in September 1860. Sadly, Alfred died in infancy, as did their younger sister Elizabeth Matilda. Their father John was a pottery warehouseman and later became a haulier.
Freddie was the first thrower that Charles Collard employed after he bought the Honiton Pottery in 1918. It is possible that Collard and Freddie met when Charles was living in Ilminster and Freddie was working as a potter’s labourer at Donyatt Pottery. In the 1901 census Freddie was listed as a widower and living in the same house as earthenware potter William Arlidge and his wife Mary at Forest Gate Donyatt.
Freddie was a real character and must have been good at his job because Collard kept him on even though he was regularly inebriated after drinking up to a gallon of cider and he often only worked for three days a week. He was one of the traditional tramping potters who would wander off for a while and then returned to throw some more pots before leaving again. He was certainly elusive – his marriage certificate has not been found yet and he is missing from three out of six census returns. His nicknames were Captain Jeanes and Walrus (possibly because of his moustaches).
As Freddie got older, he stopped tramping and settled in Honiton. He lodged for many years with Emmanuel and Emma Campion. Emmanuel was a coach builder and the three of them lived at Stanhope (now Abbeyfield) in the High Street. When the kilns were being fired over Friday and Saturday nights, Freddie would often go to the pottery and sit beside them to keep warm. Ernest Carnell assisted Freddie while he was throwing, weighing out all the balls of clay that he needed and keeping his pipe filled with tobacco because it was impossible for Freddie to do that with his hands covered in wet clay.
Freddie either fell off his bicycle and/or suffered a heart attack and died at Marlpits Hospital in 1933. On June 14 he was buried at St Michael’s churchyard.