The Little Teapot That Could

Brown Betty teapots are a part of British history

Plain, but reliable, the Brown Betty teapot has earned a place in British history.

By Betty Terry • Photography by Jim Bathie

In the Midlands of England, about 160 miles northwest of London, lies the city of Stoke-on-Trent. This part of Staffordshire, which has earned the nickname the Potteries, has been the center of English pottery-making since the Middle Ages. The natural resources necessary to make pottery—clay, lead, salt, and coal—are found in abundance here. In the 18th and 19th centuries, companies such as Wedgwood, Spode, and Royal Doulton, spurred by British demand for teapots and teacups that rivaled Chinese porcelain, brought renown to Staffordshire pottery.


  1. A couple of decades ago I inherited my grand mother’s Gibson & Sons red-ware tea pot. Recently I passed it on to my cousin, Trenna, who is named for grand mother and am now without a tea pot. I greatly admire the Staffordshire Royal Albert pots: particularly the English Rose, Old English Rose, and Confetti designs. I have looked at similar tea pots (all made in China) and find the lids don’t fit all that well and they don’t seem to have the visual appeal of the Royal Albert pots I see on the internet. I have tried without success to find comparisons between the English and Chinese pots other than price. What are the differences and are the English pots worth the price difference?

  2. Congratulations on being so kind hearted to give your treasured tea pot to your cousin!
    Before you choose a china pattern, consider that many vintage patterns are of better quality than some of the newer patterns and continued patterns that are no longer made in Great Britain or the USA.

  3. I found my Brown Betty in a thrift store for a few dollars, and I didn’t know I had an antique until after reading this article! It was made by Sadler. It’s a little teapot, good for two or three cups, and I can’t wait to make some tea.


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