Ashes Urn

Ashes Urn

Ashes Urn

The Ashes urn is a symbol of one of cricket’s oldest and most intense rivalries, the battle between England and Australia. The tiny urn, approximately four inches tall, is believed to contain the ashes of a burnt cricket bail, representing the “death” of English cricket after Australia’s victory over England in 1882. The term “Ashes” was coined, and the urn became a symbol of the ongoing competition. It is not the official trophy of the Ashes series, but rather a cherished artifact displayed at Lord’s Cricket Ground in England. The urn represents the enduring spirit and history of the iconic cricket rivalry.

Susan Rose China has been making replica urns for the MCC for many years in Stoke.

The Urns are hand made from English bone china. From the white blank the urn is painted and fired multiple times to build up the depth of the red colour. It is finished by painting the base and applying the labels.


Prince George clearly loved his day out at the Ashes with his Dad.


Prince George

robert louis stevenson

National Story Telling Week with Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

To mark National Storytelling Week we send greetings from the childhood home of Robert Louis Stevenson, creator of among many others Treasure Island and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, who was known in Samoa, where he spent his final years, as “Tusitala”, the Teller of Tales.

Writing had been RLS’s lifelong ambition. He honed his talents for years before producing his best known works, and he moved among a wide circle of other writers too, such as Henry James (The Turn of the Screw), J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan), Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes). Writing was also in his blood, as Graham Greene (The Third Man) and Dorothy E. Stevenson (who sold more books in her lifetime that RLS ever did) were both his cousins.

When our young family moved into our new home here all of twenty-eight ago, I never imagined how it would transform my life.  The house has always been of interest to the Stevenson community, so much so that previous owners had affixed a label to the doorbell telling the curious “Private House not a Museum”, as even in the 1950’s there were fans ringing the doorbell thinking they could view the house.

Having trained as a hotel manager in Switzerland, it was a small step for me to discover that the house could be run as a business: first as a private dining venue and film location and then renting out rooms to visitors as well as staging fashion sales and product launches.

It has always been difficult to strike the right balance between the needs of the modern traveller and preserving the fabric of the house, especially as it is a listed property.  We now pride ourselves in give our visitors a home from home and allowing them to feel what living in a historic home is really like - including the lack of room keys and air conditioning.

With only two guest bedrooms, we can concentrate on meeting our guests’ expectations and giving them our full attention.  Our allotment garden nearby provides a lot of the fresh fruit and veg that we serve and I was cooking “slow food” before the term was fashionable.


Unsurprisingly for a literary home it is filled with books and we are lucky enough to have it furnished with beautiful antiques showcasing our family’s diverse backgrounds as well as a growing art collection.  Already in the first round of renovations we installed bookshelves in all the toilets and actually in any available space.  There has been a steady flow of writers and journalists coming to soak up the Stevenson atmosphere and the exchange with them has been so enriching.  We even once had a travelling theatre company performing Treasure Island in our dining room with puppets and a converted double bass.

John and I are qualified tour guides not only for Edinburgh but the whole of Scotland and so we are very happy to help guests plan their trips through Scotland and to take them around Edinburgh according to their special interests.

As you can imagine the last year has been a particular challenge to everybody in the hospitality business.  We have used this time to learn more about Edinburgh and the photos taken during our lockdown walks have given us the material for our Instagram presence.

We look forward to welcoming guests again and to helping visitors discover Edinburgh and fall in love with this Gem of the North.

Written by our guest blogger, Felicitas Macfie, to mark story telling week.



Made in Britain

What it means to be Made in Britain

In 2008 I turned my hobby business into a proper business. For the previous 8 years I had been working with English bone china. It wasn't easy but I was determined to find out everything about this historical product which had so fascinated me since childhood when I developed a passion and utter insistence on owning my own English bone china tea cup and saucer.

made in britain

I had spent the previous 8 years investigating Stoke, visiting china makers, mould makers, trying to understand what made English bone china so special. It was a difficult task because I didn't know Stoke and many of the china makers and producers worked in small factory units in a rabbit Warren of backstreets which to this day still remains reminiscent of stepping back in time. An old creaky door would open, and an old cobbled courtyard would appear. The minute I started my investigation and understanding of Stoke I knew it would be my mission to always use English bone china whenever possible. I developed a greater understanding and a deep respect for this heritage product - a product that had really come to prominence during the industrial revolution and a product that had rightly earnt a place on the world stage.

It became apparent that most people in Stoke had a vast knowledge of the whole pottery industry; even the lovely girls who make the oatcakes had once worked in Wedgwood. Many of those I met had been trained, and subsequently worked for, some of the great china makers and designers once such familiar household names like Wedgwood, Royal Doulton, Spode, Paragon, Ainsley. It is a sad fact of life that as we turned our back on our knowledge and skill within British manufacturing, in the last 20 years many of these businesses shut their doors for the last time. So few of those great names are left which is another reason why I have always believed that knowledge and skill, which has been passed from one generation to another, should not be lost forever. I felt it was a sad day when we forgot some of the things that made us stand out with our manufacturing. We forgot about sustainability and we seemed a bit embarrassed by some of our past successes. English bone china lasts a lifetime and it’s incredibly strong because of the ground bone ash used in the recipe. A recipe which incidentally has been used since Josiah Spode refined it during the late 18th century. It soon became apparent that many believed it was ridiculous to buy British and better to buy the cheaper machine-made imported ware and decorate this in Stoke. I have often been met with the derisory comment -

“Oh, you make British made china, but who wants that? Do people really care? Wouldn't it be better to offer a cheaper product after all in business no one wants to be a busy fool and don’t forget, no one is really interested in where a product is produced as long as it’s affordable?”

made in britain

This statement I have never been able to agree with and have found myself arguing against it and standing up for what I believe on more than one occasion. I have never wavered from my belief that English bone china is a superior product and I have never wavered from my belief that it’s madness to throw away & ignore knowledge that has been passed from one generation to another. To work with people who have this amount of skill and understanding of something that we all use most days in some form or another, is an honour and a privilege. I believe it is up to those of us who work in industry such as myself to encourage a greater understanding and respect for English bone china. After all, wouldn’t everyone rather give a personalised present that might last a lifetime, a present that has some thought in the design and execution, rather than a something that has a short “shelf life”?

After one memorable visit to Sandhurst, I persuaded The Army Sergeant Major to stand on 2 of our Sandhurst mugs. After much teasing and begging, this very senior army officer reluctantly stood on both mugs with good grace not withstanding much banter from the onlooking officers, and was very surprised to realise both mugs took his not inconsiderable weight (he is well over 6 foot tall)! To me this was another point of proof in our product and my utter belief that there would of course be no problem in the ultimate mug test when it came to the strength of our English bone china.

The last 12 months have been turbulent for all small businesses both politically and socially because of the referendum and coronavirus. Our USP (unique selling point) is and remains English bone china but my greatest hope is that the market has room for both cheaper imports and a better quality product which will enable the customer to create a sustainable personalised gift that will last for many years, will gather momentum and gain a place in the shopping basket. I have been selling online for many years, but we still have connections to our customers. We don't mind picking up the phone and discussing their requirements and most of all we make no apologies for being A Very British company. This week we were accepted into the Made in Britain group of companies and we were really excited to think this small creative company is part of a growing appreciation for all aspects of British manufacturing. Even our packaging is made in the UK. So for those of you who have supported us over many years, I say thank you, and to those of you who have never bought a personalised piece of English bone china for a gift, please take a moment to reconsider a sustainable and long lasting gift which is makes no apology for being utterly British!

Over the years I have grown to love Stoke, the kindness of the people I meet, the enthusiasm and love they have for their industry, but more importantly what I have learnt from working in this fascinating city. My biggest dream is that for small creative British business like ours, there is only one direction, and I believe that way is up into a bright new future!


Lockdown birds

So much of what I design for our English bone china starts with nature and I can trace those influences back to my rural childhood.

I lived in rural Bedfordshire, not the flat part full of brussel sprout fields, but an area of outstanding natural beauty on the borders of Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire, in a stunning limestone village on the banks of the river Ouse, surrounding by undulating countryside, rich with wildlife.

I still remember the elm trees, the steam train which ran between Bedford & Northampton, the first time I saw a bullfinch & the first time I saw a kestrel. I can even remember where I was on both occasions. My parents had help in the garden form the most wonderful WW2 veteran and countryman. There was nothing he didn’t know about the birds as he, since his childhood in the 1920s, was an avid bird watcher and recorder of many local species. He taught me more than anyone else I knew about the habitat of our native birds and where to look and how to hunt out every bird in the area. This was definitely the way to fill any spare time! We remained great friends until his death in 2000.


My parents loved the countryside and my mother took a keen interest in nature from wildflowers to the birds. As a boy my father had an aviary & he in turn passed this love to us as children. We too had an aviary, full of budgies, lovebirds & java sparrows, so it wasn’t difficult for me to form an interest in the wild birds that visited the garden. My mother set up a bird table and with our Observer book of birds (yes, I still have it on my shelf), we spent many a cold winter’s day watching and recording the birds who visited. I soon became obsessed & started to find out more. Our walled garden was long and thin, but the second half was a paddock which contained a large vegetable garden & orchard in the top half & a stream at the bottom. I loved this stream because on our side there was an old makeshift shed with a window overlooking the fastest flowing part of the stream and on the other bank (not owned by us) was a meadow enclosed by a wonderfully old an unkempt hedge.

It is said that every species in a hedge represents 100 years of growth, so I suspect these hedges had been there for a very long time. This was a bird lover’s paradise. I made myself a little hide in the tumbledown shed. With a few bricks to stand on, I would look out unnoticed of the window into the wilderness of the stream, the weeds, wildflowers and into the hedge beyond.


My mother would also spend time in the shed, hidden away with me, but she loved the water vole. Yes, we had a family of water voles which would become our biggest time wasters. We took these things for granted. How did we know that in less than 40 years the water vole would almost be extinct? We also had a kingfisher. The excitement of watching him sit for hours on the end of the wall and then diving for fish. I still feel excitement every time I see one. Sometimes we see them here on the upper reaches of the Nene where we now live but sadly I haven’t seen one for the last 2 years. So quick, so beautiful, they always make me think of a brightly coloured flying golf ball. Such a tiny bird but one of the most beautiful of all our British birds. A few years go one appeared in the garden and landed on the sweet pea arches in the vegetable garden. Clearly, he or she had a problem with the "sat nav" when navigating the tiny river outside our mill house. Sometimes we hear them. For a little bird they have a very big noise, but at least they’ve made enough noise to make an appearance on English bone china.

When I was 10, we visited Bath. This was not an uncommon occurrence for our family as my mother’s family were from Bath & my father’s from Bristol. So, I felt I knew Bath quite well, especially the book shop in one of the little side streets. I loved this book shop & after much pleading with my parents I was allowed to use all my saved-up pocket money, birthday money & I suspect a little help from the bank of Daddy, I purchased my very first book.
Bruce Campbell’s Blandford Birds in Colour. I still use this book and love it just as much as I did the day, I bought it. It cost 25s (that’s shillings to all of you who only know decimal currency). This was to be my reference book and guide for many years. I still loved my little observer book of birds (early birthday present), but then some of the pictures were only in black and white & my new book was all in colour! Then something even more exciting happened, my parents gave me The Readers Digest Book of British Birds for my 13th Birthday. I love this book. I have never stopped using it or loving it since the day they gave it to me. It remains one of my most treasured possessions. Although it’s interesting and worrying to see how many common birds have changed their habitat over the last 40 years.

So, with the help of a few books, I really started to learn about my birds. I found the best way to recognise a bird was to listen to the bird song, then look for the bird. This was how I learnt to recognise & identify certain birds. If I knew the song and could hear it, then I knew the bird was there. I still use this method today if I’m not sure about something. Blackcaps were frequent visitors in our childhood garden, but it wasn’t until I had a family of my own & lived in Northamptonshire that I realised just how truly beautiful was the song of the blackcap and why it is often called the nightingale of the north, but of course where I live now the countryside is so different. I live near woods and much smaller fields, so the bird life is very different from my childhood. The woods here are full of warblers, blackcaps, huthatches and wood peckers. Chaffinches dance with siskins and linnets in the hedgerows. Long-tailed tits and redpolls chatter in the top of the larch trees and wheatears sometimes bounce along the edge of the ploughed fields. At home we had wagtails, green finches, coal tits, thrushes and house sparrows.

I had sparrows here at the Mill and for many years a colony of tree sparrows, which are and will always remain, my favourite bird. It was heart breaking the day they disappeared 2 years ago from the garden, followed by the house sparrows last year. However, my mother-in-law lives next door and she has a huge colony of house sparrows, so I’m hoping they just decided to move home!



As for the tree sparrows, I’m not sure why they went. Was it the sparrow hawk who likes to visit? Did the farmer change something he was doing (we are on the edge of farmland and tree sparrows are a very typical farmland bird.)



The birds I grew up with have had a huge influence in my life. From childhood I started drawing and making notes about their habitat so now I find myself drawing and developing these ideas to reproduce on to English bone china. Of course, I have paint in a different way because I need to make sure the colours and lines are strong and definite because of the print and the way that re-produces on to The English bone china. I am so excited to have used some of this lockdown time to develop a new garden bird mug and possibly a follow up with a second bird mug based on farmland birds, but the most exciting new piece of English bone china is our planned 3 tier bird cake stand. So, I think there has been much to celebrate over the last few weeks.

For the first time in three years I heard a cuckoo in Northamptonshire. For the first time in 2 years my swallows have returned to nest in our stable and the tree sparrows might have disappeared but has been replaced by a pair of reed buntings. Perhaps this Lockdown has given a helping hand to nature.






What has happened to Susan Rose China during lockdown?

What has happened to Susan Rose China during lockdown?

Like so many small businesses we found ourselves at the edge of a precipice looking into the unknown.

As Charles is an NHS Doctor we were acutely aware, a week before the lockdown, there was going to be a huge problem with social distancing and keeping the workshop open.

Viv took her computer and decided to work from home which left the Mill office space unused.

We managed to bring our boys, their partners, computers & their work out of London to work from the newly emptied office workspace we had created at home.Computers installed, Wi-Fi working, 2 girls’ downstairs & one son upstairs in splendid isolation, everyone happy, job done, family safe and so it began.


One son in charge of food and cooking, one son in charge of chores (quite a lot of those in this house), future daughter-in-law in charge of granny, who lives next door & is self-isolating in her house and one almost daughter-in-law, in charge of baking.

It was agreed that the workshop would keep functioning until a lockdown was announced. Andy, his daughter Emily, Allen the printer & Liz the lithographer make up team “Stoke” which is all kept running under the watchful eye of Andy.

Everyone felt they were able to continue with social distancing but as our suppliers started to shut and our orders started to be postponed or delayed the decision was taken to shut the workshop.

So, with great sadness, Charles drove to Stoke for one last time and collected the final order of several hundred tiles for a local client.

We were able to leave these outside the Mill for 'click and collect', leaving Andy to lock up the workshop and head for home.


Suddenly we had little money coming in and outstanding bills, no one could pay us as we were all in the same position.

It was a sad day to know all 7 of us had worked so hard for this little business and we had become so much more than a team, we were in fact a little china family! It was agreed we would have a zoom meeting once a week between Northamptonshire and Stoke. Charles (when he wasn’t being an NHS doctor) and I would be left to run the business with the help of our accountant to sort out the financial side and we would keep everyone up to date with what was happening.  So it began, a new life & a new way of working.

I knew my life work balance was very bad. Like many small business owners our business had grown bottom up from a successful hobby business. Charles and I spent every waking hour of every day working hard to make it viable. Almost everything else had fallen into second place even my design work. So, I looked at this as an opportunity to sort my life and the business out. We started with our social media because this was to all intents and purposes our only form of marketing. I have always been in charge of this, but it was a bit hit and miss depending on how much help I could afford with the wonderful Green Umbrella and how much time I was prepared to spend developing the marketing side, but to the cost of something else. We had a good look on the internet and found the social media tool SmarterQueue. It took me a week to sort out the platforms and the planning, but it was probably the best and most productive time I had spent in a long-time planning and improving traffic to our website. I also felt back in control. Success number one!

What next, what do people want from Susan Rose China? We offer an English product personalised manufactured in the UK and yet I had been too busy to update and deliver new design work and new ideas. This was my core strength and where I think I can deliver my skill to the business.

So, I started work re-designing & developing new ranges of English bone china for the children's section which was virtually non-existent on our new website. Several zoom and WhatsApp calls with Andy and listening to his suggestions when he wasn't doing home-schooling were much appreciated and eventually we felt we had come up with some good designs & made progress. Of course, none of these designs will be anything other than the paper they are printed on until we re-open the workshop. Like everything

nothing in this life is straightforward.children's china

The next step is to fire a colour sample and then when Andy is satisfied, he will start the process of making samples. These will then be photographed for the website and lifestyle pictures made for social media posts. Finally, when all this is done, we have to “launch on the web-site”. This will mean 3 of us writing copy, sorting SKU codes & social media content.

For me, this is the second success, to have achieved the finished designs in this range is a massive personal achievement.

Our next hurdle was our printer, just before lockdown we had secured a very large corporate order. On the back of this we ordered and invested in a “posie printer” to help our larger silk screen printing for many of our corporate clients. Normally we send images of our designs to another highly specialised print maker who then makes an individual colour film for each layer of colour from my design work. This is highly skilled, as each separate film sheet produced makes a different layer of colour for the screens Allen produces. However, we had decided we could learn this process of ourselves. There’s nothing like a lockdown to make us determined and to learn a new skill. Success number two for Charles as the technician in the team.

What would be my goals, apart from the design work? What would be my new skill? Yes I have set myself the task of walking to the next village and back every day (round trip 3 1/2 miles) but I also needed to learn a new skill so this precious time at home with no disturbance, would enable me to add a new value to the business after lockdown. Then I saw it on Instagram, an online video course. I’d been talking about it for so long, thinking about it for years, never having the time to make it happen. So, with the help and encouragement from some very inspirational & creative women in Yorkshire, I did it. I signed up for Zanthe Berkeley online video course. This is my third personal success.

I do have a 4th aim but that is work in progress and will wait for another day & another blog, but lastly I strongly recommend anyone who has a creative business take time to look at The Enterprise Collective , which is run by some amazing, inspirational women. They are very active on Instagram particularly Drs Wife. Take a look at what you can achieve with a little determination. To quote my lovely almost daughter-in-law, to be remembered you need to be different. So at Susan Rose China we have every aspiration to achieve this.

How we made our new website

Welcome to our first blog for our new website and a perfect opportunity to explain exactly what we have been doing and some of our future plans.  This week saw a celebration of Entrepreneurs with “National Entrepreneurs Day” and so I felt it was time to “seize the day”.

A new website takes many months of planning.  As our work became busier and our team grew to the heady heights of 7, we realised we were fast out growing our old website. Many of our customers found it time consuming to navigate, so we decided to upgrade our website to make the user experience better. We live in a society where most people are time poor and fewer people seem even to have time to shop on the high street but spend an increasing amount of time shopping online.

As a close team we all had to look at every product, what was worth saving, developing and what we needed to say goodbye to! The last design decisions usually come down to myself and Andy. As the designer, I always like to make the final decision with Andy because he is in charge of production, having been brought up in the industry, he knows every strength and every weakness from what will print well and what will not work.

This first stage looking at products and making new samples took many months of work. The first initial plans were drawn up early in 2019. We found other websites which inspired us, worked well and were good to navigate. We had to achieve speed of navigation with a clean and modern feel. English bone china is a heritage product, so Susan Rose china needs to sell both the story and the brand, in order for our customers to understand why we believe this product has a place in the 21st Century.

I am passionate about the English bone china industry, its industrial heritage & how this product is just as important today as it was 100 years ago. It is our job to make other people understand and appreciate its quality. If we fail to do this then we will not be able to sell our much-loved product, and we will have failed at the first hurdle. I do not believe failure is an option.

So therefore, this is the next important piece in the website planning, the photography. To tell a good visual story every piece needs a correct photograph for the new website. This means a product photo and approximately a minimum of 4 or 5 lifestyle photos for both the website and social media. With our last website we employed a fantastic local professional photographer, but as this is something I’ve always been interested in, I decided to give it a go myself. As those of you who know me, I am a great believer in “give it a go” because if someone else can do it, the chances are you can too. The product photos were not a problem as we have a professional photographic machine in Stoke. Emily is a great photographer and has mastered Orbitvu with all its quirks and “bad days” to a much better standard than I ever achieved. Most of our work is photographed, on completion from the workshop. Then I collect the samples and bring them back to my photographic den above our office here at The Mill to create a lifestyle picture. Although I have a great SLR Nikon camera, I ended up using my google phone for most of the lifestyle shots. The google camera phone is so good and so easy to instantly load pictures to the relevant folder on the desktop, I ended up using this for the majority of pictures.

This is always time consuming because we have so many products and I love mixing up the photos to create various animated posts. I also believe it is important to show our customers and clients the manufacturing process for each piece. This is sometimes tricky as the factory does not welcome a lot of intrusive photography to protect clients and their designs, but somehow with their help we have slowly managed to achieve this. Of course, this photography process is always ongoing as we constantly add new pieces to the website.

What about the descriptions for each piece of English bone china? We soon realised we simply did not have enough time in the day to do this, so what better than to ask someone with a good use of English and knowledge of our business, my friend Lib. When we first started the business in 2008, Lib offered to come and help out. She stayed for many years, multitasking from decorating to writing social media posts. When we moved the workshop from Northamptonshire to Stoke in 2017 Lib sadly left us, but her dedication and commitment remained, so we were lucky she was able to help us with the new website.

The photography and descriptions have to all be married up and each folder copied to the web designers, my social media library and to Green Umbrella who help us with our social media marketing. The website designers, Brookstone Creative spend many hours of hard work coming up with designs and navigation for each product, making suggestions and giving us plenty of homework along the way.

Eventually we launched in October, but with many plans for the forthcoming months. We successfully added the bauble page and now we have a proper Christmas range which we will be launching ready for Black Friday. Andy and I are working on the children’s page and early in the new year we will be putting together a page for tableware and dinner services.

Like so many things in life it all takes so much longer than you think, but it was definitely been worth every moment of planning even if it has meant the next blog will be about….Christmas!

Susan Rose

Long promised new

Finally, here we are with the long promised new website! 

When the business amalgamated with International Ceramic Printing late in 2018 to have its own workshop, it became even more apparent that the business needed a bigger and better on-line presence to support the developing business.  Having come to this realisation, the decision was taken in February to begin the planning of a new website suitable to support our growing business.

Susan as always has been at the hub of her business and her key role is always deciding which of her unique lines could do with further development and a “revamp” to be fit for today’s market, which new lines from an ever changing market place would enhance the business by allowing her to add her own twist on things giving them that unique Susan “flavour “– and of course which designs having done their job over the years in getting the business to this level which now need to discarded – never an easy task. So in the planning of this website, we have been through all the products with a fine toothcomb and the amount of work this has generated has been unprecedented!  So we really hope you like what you see!

Flamingo Mug

Susan was particularly keen that a new website should showcase some new designs and as part of this push, Susan is introducing her spectacular new Flamingo range – based as so many of her designs are on her own personal sketches.  These brightly coloured birds are always a talking point and we love the phrase on the new teacups and teapot that “Pink is Power”!  The range is not yet finished with further suggestions coming in for development from Emily in the workshop as to using this lovely bird on a new Christmas Bauble for launch later in the year – watch this space!

On the development front, our hugely popular racing china has undergone a revamp with the help of Paul Webber racing and this has seen the introduction of our new contemporary teapot and matching Stirling teacups.

Our bookworm range was always popular both here and in America. This too has undergone some revamping with further authors added to our new Balmoral mug and we have also introduced further authors into the complementary Bookworm teapot in this range. We have further plans to develop this range with a similar mug featuring male authors and to produce a further one particularly for the American market.

Bookworm Mug

The countryside has always featured heavily in Susan’s life and our floral range is one of which Susan is justifiably proud.  We have further developed this by adding to our “Secrets” range with a beautiful new ½ pint English bone china tankard mug, matching teapot and a large square dish.  Perfect for a stunning “secret” gift!

Jug of Secrets

Our children’s range has been greatly pared back for the launch as we are busy working on some exciting new designs for these very important little people and these will be with you by the end of October!  We have though given Susan’s hand-painted and hand-drawn Christening Pictures pride of place with a category solely devoted to these unique works of art!

Each of these new projects involves a great deal of work from the initial concept until the design is finally published on our website. Each design is carefully discussed within the team before Susan puts pen to paper and discusses the intricacies of the printing and the reproduction of the design with the workshop team in Stoke-on-Trent.  We rely on Andy to decide on the final hand-painted touches that make the products so unique.  Once the sample English bone china is made, the pieces are individually photographed by Emily in Stoke using our professional photographic machine before being returned to Susan for her to add her own unique touch by photographing each product in context, so her clients have a very good idea of how the piece of china to be purchased will look in their home. Recognising the importance of Social Media, Susan is in the process of adding animated posts to every product.

Finished Baubles

For the last 3 years, we have been discussing how best to develop a designated page to show our clients how they might have an individually designed & personalised dinner service.  This page will be up and running early in 2020!

We have been indebted to our new website designers, Karen and Richard from Brookstone Creative, who have been fantastic in both their support and their ideas for getting the best out of our products. But the biggest thank you has to go to Christina and all at Green Umbrella Marketing with whom we have worked with for many years now and who gave us the introduction to Brookstone when they could see that we were ready to jump our business to the next level.

We hope you love our new website as much as we do.  Watch this space for our forthcoming Special Offers and Discount Vouchers at the end of this month.

Feet up we did it!

Susan Rose

Susan Rose China team

A review of our work in English bone china in 2018

Thanks to Christina at Green Umbrella I have finally been press-ganged into writing my first blog for Susan Rose China and been given the topic of reviewing our work in 2018.

How to summarise a whole years work I ask myself?

Rather than list our activities by month which I found rather too reminiscent of a round-robin Christmas letter ( only recently consigned to the recycling bin ) I have decided to try and summarise by topic.

Christina Green Umbrella


Getting married continues to provide Susan Rose China with a steady supply of work. We love working with The Wedding Present Company who continue to provide us with a steady supply of orders from the engagement announcement through to the wedding and onto the birth announcements – like night follows day! In 2018 there were 2 high profile weddings which we were pleased to be a very small part of.

Wedding bespoke oval planter

Dinner Services

An area we would like to expand in 2019 once we have figured out how to improve our website. We completed several dinner services for newly weds in 2018 and remain firmly convinced having your own dinner service pattern on English bone china can’t be beaten. The idea has been updated from the past when you routinely received an entire matching set of everything.Today couples are focused on a limited range of the basics to which they can add as the years unfold. Still deeply personal, beautiful and very durable for daily use.



After Susan and Viv visited Sandhurst early in the year to sponsor the All Arms Pace Sticking competition we have added more regiments to the list of Susan Rose China recipients including the Gurkhas, Royal Engineers and some of the Royal Armoured Corps. After doing a bit of research I am pleased to find there are 17 infantry regiments, 9 armoured corps regiments, 4 reserve regiments and 5 combat support arms regiments in The British Army. And then there is the Navy and Royal Air Force …. Plenty more people to enlighten on the benefits of having china made from English bone china. We need to circulate the video of Susan standing on a bone china plate to demonstrate it’s strength. No sign of cracking (honest).

Gurkha place setting


Susan has been made vice-chair of Friends of the Scott Polar Institute (FOSPRI) this year which has only strengthened her determination to visit Antarctica. Our visit to the Arctic in 2015 seems a long time ago (and was so much nearer). I have been playing her youtube videos of ships in rough seas to try and put her off but sadly it doesn’t seem to have dampened her determination! She has taken to recruiting any of our friends who will listen to become members of FOSPRI and put their names down for an Antarctic trip in 2021.

Her interest continues to inspire a range of polar themed china and has meant we have produced a mug full of history for Robert Scottin 2018 to complement the one she has done for Ernest Shackleton. It is exciting to think he might win the BBC Icons title.

In 2018 we have also worked with The Gilbert White Museum in Hampshire – it is a fascinating collection celebrating Gilbert White and the Oates Collection –

Scott prints

Schools and Universities

Viv seems determined to recruit every school in the UK to her list of recipients of a Susan Rose China Mug! In 2018 we have enjoyed working with Warwick School, The High School Glasgow, St Peters School, Luckley House, Hurstpierpoint School, Friends of Brandeston School, Gordonstoun, Rugby School, Blundells School, Bryanston School, St Edmunds College, The Loughborough Foundation, Universities of Kent and Exeter, Trinity College Cambridge, Halliford School, Dragon School, St Mary’s School, Birkenhead School, Dean Close, Ynsmaerdy Primary School, Harrow School and she even spread her tentacles across the world to Ruyton Girls’ School in Australia. We hope to grow her reach further in 2019 and are talking to the new wave of English schools in the Far East.

A recent comment left on our website from Hurstpierpoint College

‘We have recently received our third order of mugs from Susan Rose China. As always, we are delighted with the design, the packaging and delivery. Viv is extremely helpful and efficient and nothing is too much trouble. Thank you’


Viv doesn’t confine herself to schools and has managed to persuade several large companies of the benefits of a quality product which will last. We have loved working with Stifel this year and have enjoyed a new relationship with Birchall Tea which does seem a natural fit. I hope more people may decide the benefit of drinking from bone china is worth the investment and might save us from having to watch programmes about our planet drowning in plastic. Here’s hoping ..

Follow this link to listen to Sir David Attenborough’s message on plastic.

Bookworm Mug

Susan decided to adapt her bookworm mug for the Coffeehouse Readers in 2018. It is a Facebook group with over 10,000 members. No coincidence her sister, Barbara Claypole White, is one of the founding members. Susan’s bookworm mug design celebrates the writing of over 30 female British authors.

Follow this link to have a look at a UK version of the bookworm mug or this link to purchase the US version from Susan Rose China’s Facebook shop.

Bookworm Mug

Bespoke China

We continue to offer a bespoke service for corporate and retail clients. There is no limit to the design ideas.

There are too many examples to describe them all.

A cake plate to celebrate a 20th wedding anniversary with customer’s feedback

‘Susan’s artwork and creativity helped make my 20th wedding anniversary the occasion I hoped it would be. My wife was so pleased with her gifts! And we now have two pieces of china that we will treasure! Can’t wait to think of a reason to come back to Susan to ask her to make something else!’

Susan has been a practice member of the Church of England all our her life. No doubt influenced by her late Father who was a vicar in the parish of Felmersham in Bedfordshire. Susan is a church warden and a member of the lay band who is often found in Badby Church on a Sunday morning leading the family service. She was very pleased to receive a commission from Lambeth Palace in 2018 to mark the visit of His Eminence Ahmed el-Tayyeb, The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif to meet Tony Blair.

Keep reading – only a couple more …

Cake Plate

Horse Racing

We continue to supply various horse racing courses with prizes and are pleased to continue working with Warwick, Exeter and Bath.

We have reached across the pond to Maryland once again and hope to continue to offer a quality produce and superb personal service.

‘Working with Susan Rose China really is a pleasure. They are incredibly organised with helping us order new stock, they are always friendly and helpful and most importantly, the quality of the product is always absolutely perfect. We would whole heartedly recommend any business to use them’

Horse Racing

Yacht Clubs

Since we first worked with the Royal Yacht Squadron we have loved producing trophies for yacht clubs and were pleased to offer our services to the Queensland Cruising Yacht Club in 2018 – just wish it had needed a personal visit to ensure quality or something. Anything in fact!


Our thanks to the British Legion who have continued to commission further mugs to expand their range of Susan Rose China in 2018 culminating with the very successful armistice mug. Susan has now done a mug design for each year of the First World War, VE Day, WWI, Falklands War, RAF100, Armistice, Members Mug with more on the way. Look out for the mugs commemorating The Navy, The Army, and The RAF and 75 years from D-Day…

And finally…

I must not forget to mention the workshop. We have been working with Andy Graham at IC Printing Ltd for several years. In 2016 we moved our workshop from Newnham and took up residence in a couple of rooms upstairs at Andy’s workshop in Longton. In October we finally took the plunge and bought his business. We continue to work together to amalgamate the two companies and mould a great team

Susan Rose China Studio

Susan Rose China the business journey

Susan Rose China has been on a journey. It all started many years ago when I left Art School and turned down a place at teacher training college (I believed I was taking the place for the wrong reasons) to become self-employed. I returned to the village where I grew up and rented a tiny little cottage on the edge of the Turvey House Estate. These were probably some of the happiest years of my life. I was completely independent and free to pursue a career in art.

Ceramics were not on my radar at the start but after working with an interior decorator, things were about to change. I was introduced to Marlborough Tiles’ London flagship shop, Sloane Square tiles who were desperately looking for hand painters. Never one to turn down an opportunity I decided to take a crash course in painting ceramics. With much scorn from a potter friend I embarked on my journey. Despite no kiln or know how I was determined to learn the skill of ceramic painting.  It is one of my greatest beliefs in life if someone else can do something so can you, you just have to learn how to do it.

With the help of a Pottery Crafts video (we didn’t have YouTube in those days) and a very sympathetic father I taught myself how to paint on ceramic tiles. My father lent me the money for my first top loading kiln. The idea was to pay him back in instalments with 10% from all subsequent orders and commissions. It turned out to be an extremely good arrangement for me and extremely poor arrangement for him. I don’t think he received more than £10 back of his original £200 investment!

I painted tiles for Sloane Square tiles until 2000 when the shop was sold. By then my interest in English bone china had been rekindled. As a child I had always loved English bone china and always used my own English bone china tea cup and saucer! It didn’t take long to transfer my new acquired ceramic painting skills from tiles to china and thus Susan Rose China was created.

I started to investigate Stoke and soon found out where to buy blank white china and started experimenting. The results were nothing to shout about but I was hooked.  With the help of a computer I found a supplier of end of line blank white china and overs from the local factories in the Longton district of Stoke. The more I painted, the more my skill and enthusiasm grew.

Around this time I was lucky to meet the highly successful and wonderful Mary Howard who invited me to exhibit at her well-known Christmas fair in Hullavington. My hand painted china was a great success. I continued selling as Susan Rose China at Hullavington and many other Christmas fairs for the next 10 years.

As the business grew I struggled to keep up with the orders. It would often be painting into the night trying to fulfil all the personalised china for all my clients. Luckily the man in my life had the same mind set as me, “if someone else can do it so can you”, so he discovered how the print makers and china makers in Stoke produced images and designs for their industry using both traditional methods but also a new digital printing process. A few weeks later he sold his much-loved classic Porsche car and invested in my little hobby business.

We moved the business into the garage space vacated by the Porsche and started to build the business. We purchased 2 digital printers and invested in our own moulds for the most used china pieces. We were able to persuade one of the factories in Longton to start making china for us and were able to stop buying end of line and overs thereby improving the quality.

It was 2008 and the orders rolled in. Despite using the printers I still couldn’t keep up. So  I took the next step and started to employ help. The first person was my very talented friend Lib, who over the next few years worked together tirelessly with me. It was Lib who wisely identified we needed help with the packing and so we employed Jackie. She was a perfect addition to our garage team. Her eagle-eye and attention to detail were outstanding. Nothing ever slipped through her china inspections.  Utterly swamped and all of us multi-tasking we all knew we didn’t have the man hours to take the business forward.

Then came Viv! The business manager and office supremo. She started licking us into shape. With many years of running a whole department at Warwick School and before that an extremely successful career selling in the pharmaceutical industry, the arrival of Viv changed the emphasis of the business from retail to corporate. Clients who thought they were buying a few mugs left having purchased enough for everyone in their entire business! The date was 2012 and significant because I started working with Andy.

It was my china maker who put me in touch with Andy. We had our first big corporate commission for a prestigious London client and digital printing  just wasn’t going “cut the mustard”.  As a skilled print maker, Andy and his small team were making lithographic prints using silk screens which were perfect for large corporate orders giving a very rich deep colour. I was later to discover just how talented Andy was when it came to decorating and painting.

Susan Rose China

In 2014 Viv attended the Business Growth Programme at Cranfield University on behalf of the Susan Rose China team and this led to an unstoppable chain of events. We started to believe and think like a business and not a hobby business. We converted the wooden garage to a new stone-built garage with an office upstairs and a workshop downstairs. We worked more closely with Andy as by now 70% of our business was corporate and only 30% retail. We had a new website. Viv or I started to go to Stoke every week. After much soul searching we realised we could no longer keep the production side in Northamptonshire and decided to move all of the production to Andy’s workshop including the digital printers. It was a sad day in 2016 when I had to say good bye to Lib and Jackie. They had been a very important and much-loved part of Susan Rose China.

With Andy running the production side of our business from his workshop it seemed obvious next stage would be to work more closely together. In 2017 we started discussing how we could do this and in October 2018 we finally signed on the dotted line. We have become Susan Rose China Ltd and have taken over the workshop business, International Ceramic Printing Ltd. Charles,

Viv and I work in the business selling and designing china from the office in Northamptonshire. Andy runs all the production from his workshop in Longton with his screen maker Alan and his daughter and lithographer Emily. We have enlarged the team with Liz joining us as an additional  lithographer. Together the 7 of us are determined to make our little business succeed for our corporate and retail customers.

Along the way we have had much help from The Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce and in particular the wonderful Ron Lynch from the Institute of Directors, without whom we wouldn’t  have come this far.