Things to Do: The Potteries
Sandon Hall is only 13.5 miles from Stoke-on-Trent, the world capital of ceramics. The 300-year industry grew out of the abundance of coal and clay in the surrounding area, which is known as ‘The Potteries’ and is a china and pottery lover’s haven.
Take a day or two to make the most of this unique area. The various long-standing potteries offer a world of activities: museum wandering, shop pondering, factory tours, pottery workshops, plus the chance to have a go at the potter’s wheel yourself.
First opening its doors in 1795, this vintage store has been offering both well-known and newly discovered UK pottery products and brands for hundreds of years. Visiting the store today you will find brands such as Finlandia, Hippy Florals, Jamie Oliver, The Kingdom, Sieni, and more.
Churchill China Factory Shop Opening Dates/Times
Only open on weekends 10:00-16:00
Churchill China History
Churchill China started when Sampson Bridgwood first manufactured earthenware in Longton in 1795. Famous for the ‘Blue Willow’ pattern first made in 1818 (and still produced today), the Churchill group is responsible for Alchemy Fine China and Art de Cuisine.
Visiting Churchill China Factory Shop from The Sandon Hall Estate
Churchill China Factory Shop is a 30-minute drive from Sandon Hall, north up the A51 and A500. On Marlborough Way, the shop will be on your left and parking will be on your right.
Where to Eat Near Churchill China Factory Shop
The Cushion Pub – This pub is a 5-minute drive from Churchill China Factory Shop and has a pleasant beer garden and a nice view.
The stylish Emma Bridgewater Factory sits on the Caldon Canal and offers a colourful garden, an award-winning tour (pre-book via the website) and pottery decorating opportunities. The factory of this classic modern pottery brand also hosts many social, creative and gastronomic events throughout the year.
Emma Bridgewater Factory Opening Dates/Times
Monday – Saturday: 9:30-17:00
Sundays and Bank Holidays: 10:00-16:00
Emma Bridgewater History
Emma started the brand in 1984 after an unsuccessful hunt for a unique and sentimental gift for her mother on her birthday. Emma believes kitchen china sits at the heart of our lives. A personalised mug shares a personal story, whilst plates used on special occasions carry important memories. The Emma Bridgewater brand now produces 1.7 million pieces of pottery each year. Each piece uses 30 different hands to create it.
Visiting Emma Bridgewater Factory from The Sandon Hall Estate
The Emma Bridgewater Factory is a 30-minute drive from Sandon Hall. Head north up the A51 and A50. The Emma Bridgewater Factory is on Pelham St. There is parking on-site.
Public Transport Access to Emma Bridgewater Factory
Take a 20-minute taxi to Stafford train station to get a train to Stoke-on-Trent. The factory is a short taxi ride from there.
Activities for Kids
Take advantage of a 1.5-hour (pre-booked) time slot in the factory’s decorating studio, perfect for all ages to create their own designs to take home with them. For people with young babies, there is a Baby Printing Experience so you can take home a special memento of your child’s tiny hands or feet.
The Emma Bridgewater Factory is in Hanley. Hanley is well known for its artistic culture. It is home to the Regent Theatre, Mitchell Arts Centre, Five Towns Theatre and Victoria Hall concert venue, all situated in the city centre. You can also find The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery for more history on the UK ceramic world.
Hanley Park is a lovely green area where you can find artworks including Love Ties by Emily Campbell, tennis courts, a pretty lake and more.
Where to Eat Near Emma Bridgewater Factory
Eat at the factory’s own Emma Bridgewater Kitchen Café, a highly recommended Kitchen Café for food recipes inspired by Emma’s very own dishes.
For a top-rated sandwich option just a 15-minute walk from the Emma Bridgewater Factory, try The Slamwich Club. This particular sandwich shop has been voted ‘Restaurant of the Year’ by 6 towns radio and Trip Advisor named them in the Travellers Choice award in 2020. Open Tuesday to Saturday, they also have a delicious brunch option, Saturdays 11 am to 2 pm.
Set amongst acres of glorious nature, World of Wedgwood is an award-winning tourist destination for all things Wedgwood. As well as stunning collections within their gallery walls, they have a variety of other activities for the entire family to enjoy. The 45-minute guided factory tour shows behind-the-scenes crafting of Wedgwood. They also have pottery wheel classes and decorating studio sessions for ceramics making, painting and glazing.
World of Wedgwood Opening Dates/Times
Wednesday – Sunday: 10:00-17:00
Wedgwood was founded by 29-year-old independent potter Josiah Wedgwood 1st in 1759. The brand continues to use the materials he invented: Jasper, Queen’s Ware and Black Basalt. Josiah Wedgwood is said to be the starter of many of today’s common sales techniques such as the money-back guarantee, buy-one-get-one-free and free delivery.
The World of Wedgwood features the factory that has been creating Wedgwood pieces since 1940. The pieces are handcrafted. The fine bone china expressive plate, for example, takes 36 hours to make, over three days, by four different craftsmen.
Visiting World of Wedgwood from The Sandon Hall Estate
World of Wedgwood is a 24-minute drive from Sandon Hall. Head north up the A51 and A34. World of Wedgwood is on Wedgwood Drive. There is parking onsite at World of Wedgwood.
Activities For Kids
In addition to the factory tour, Christmas brings story time into Santa’s grotto. There is also Santa’s toy shop and festive pottery painting and glazing. Be sure to book in advance.
World of Wedgwood is situated amongst the glorious Barlaston countryside with lakes, rivers, rolling hills and wildlife. The Trent and Mersey canal is a lovely scenic walk, not far from the site. The English palladian country house of Barlaston Hall is also just a 15-minute walk away.
Where to Eat Near World of Wedgwood
Situated on the glorious site grounds, The Wedgwood Tea Room is a lovely restaurant for brunch, lunch and afternoon tea. You can book the semi-private dining area for celebrations too.
World of Wedgwood’s Courtyard Café serves deliciously British, home-cooked food that you can eat on the go or on one of the complementary picnic blankets.
Potteries in Burslem
Burslem is the Mother of The Potteries due to the quantity of best-in-class pottery brands manufactured there. It is also where Josiah Wedgwood was born, a prominent figure in the industry.
To add to your day out, visit Burslem park, a beautiful open space for walking, picnicking and outdoor sports. You can also escape the town via the Whitfield Valley Nature Reserve, once a colliery and now a stunning walk with various routes to explore.
Here are three of Sandon Hall’s favourite pottery sites to visit in the potter’s town of Burslem:
One of the oldest pottery factories in Burslem, Royal Stafford is based in the Royal Overhouse Manufactory. The 1845-established brand leads in English-cream earthenware and is internationally recognised for its high-quality tableware.
The factory shop is an ‘emporium’ of both traditional and modern pottery pieces at heavily discounted prices. The Ceramic café is a therapeutic spot for peaceful pottery decorating. With modest pricing, it’s an easy afternoon pleaser.
Royal Stafford Opening Dates/Times
Monday – Friday: 9:30 – 16:00
Royal Stafford History
Royal Stafford was founded in 1845 by Tomas Poole. They started producing their high-fired English Earthenware in 1994.
The earliest records of The Royal Overhouse Manufactory site, where Royal Stafford produce their pottery, date back to Thomas Wedgwood operating in 1787. Royal Stafford, as it is known today, was founded in 1845 by Tomas Poole. They started producing their high-fired English Earthenware in 1994. The site was newly renovated in 1869 by Edward Challinor who had taken over the site in 1819.
Visiting Royal Stafford from The Sandon Hall Estate
Royal Stafford is a 35-minute drive from The Sandon Hall Estate. Head north up the A51 and A34. Once you turn left up Market Pl, the factory will be at the end on your left and parking will be on your right.
Activities For Kids
Decorating your own pottery in the ceramic café is a fun activity for the whole family. There is also an option of a reduced studio fee for parties of 10+. Make sure to book on their website here.
Where to Eat Near Royal Stafford
Market Place Cafe is a warm and welcoming café next door to the factory. This option has good food, great prices and friendly staff.
Burley Ale House is a nice pub option, also next door to Royal Stafford. Try their traditional pub food in the dog-friendly beer garden.
Moorcroft has been enjoyed by the world’s most famous actors, singers, presidents, prime ministers and Her Majesty The Queen. Moorcroft Heritage comprises a wonderful museum, factory tour and shop.
The Moorcroft Museum shares collections throughout the 120+ years of the brand, including the very first collections and iconic, highly valued pieces. The Moorcroft Heritage tour explores the background of Moorcroft’s unique and traditionally handmade pieces. Pre-book the tour for guaranteed access.
Many richly decorated and intricate works can be bought on-site at the shop. Trained (and award-winning!) sales advisors, unique displays and a ‘wealth of choice’ means everyone can go home with their perfect keepsake.
Moorcroft Heritage Visitor Centre Opening Dates/Times
Wednesday – Saturday 10:30 – 16:30
William Moorcroft’s first pieces date back to 1897 when he designed pottery for James Macintyre & Co. Liberty of London, Tiffany & Co and Harrods then became buyers of more of Moorcroft’s works. It was in 1913 that he started ‘W. Moorcroft Ltd’ in the Burslem factory. Moorcroft was appointed ‘Potters to H.M The Queen’ in 1928.
The designers for Moorcroft changed three times across the decades. Now, five world-class designers make up the design team for the Moorcroft brand.
Visiting Moorcroft Heritage Visitor Centre from The Sandon Hall Estate
Moorcroft Heritage Visitor Centre is a 40-minute drive from Sandon Hall. North up the A51 and A34, Moorcroft pottery is on the left-hand side of Elder Rd. There is parking on-site.
Activities For Kids
The Factory Tour is great fun for all the family. Kids under 11 can buy discounted tickets at £5.
Where to Eat Near Moorcroft Heritage Visitor Centre
Easy, quick, top-rated fish and chips can be found at Captain Kooks, on the same road as the site.
Drive 10 minutes to Horn & Trumpet, a pub with a pleasant beer garden and a nice variety of food.
Middleport Pottery has been the home to Burleigh handmade pottery since 1889. This visitor centre offers a glimpse into the preserved old offices and factories of the pottery house. There is also a guided tour available. Pre-book (+44(0)1782 499766) to hear about the various skills needed to create each pot and watch demonstrations of the traditional techniques.
Middleport Pottery Opening Dates/Times
Every day: 10:00-16:00
Middleport Pottery History
Middleport Pottery has been in continuous production since it opened as a factory in 1889. The Prince’s Trust helped to fund the building’s 3-year renovation in 2011. It is now open to the public as a visitor attraction and creative business centre. It is also currently the location for ‘The Great Pottery Throw Down’ on Channel 4.
Visiting Middleport Pottery from The Sandon Hall Estate
Middleport Pottery is a 40-minute drive from Sandon Hall, north up the A51 and A500.
Once you pass four right turns on Newcastle St, take the 5th right onto Orme St. Middleport Pottery is on your right on Port St. There is parking on-site.
Activities For Kids
Middleport Pottery hosts a variety of events for all the family. Find out what they have coming up via their Facebook page.
Where to Eat Near Middleport Pottery
The Middleport Pottery café is a pleasant stop for fabulous British homemade cakes, teas and lunches.
Just over a 10-minute walk from Middleport Pottery is Agie & Katie, a highly rated Polish restaurant. Try something different with their polish pancakes or dumplings.
Visiting The Potteries during your stay at Sandon Hall makes for a delightful and enriching experience.
We hope this guide helps you make the most out of the rich and unique cultural history in the area.
Explore more Things To Do in Staffordshire
There are plenty of activities, events and places to visit around Sandon Hall and across Staffordshire.