100 Objects 13,14, 15: Clay Pipes

Jaye Jones at Highfield House found this fragment of a clay tobacco pipe (first of the images below) “A piece of clay pipe found under our hazel hedge. I expect there are many more pieces around the village, but I love the image of somebody working in the coppice then sitting down to have a smoke and admire their handywork” Jeremy Holtom followed this up with a rather fine specimen which has a decorated bowl.(middle) Then Kate Cox came up with a pipe bowl from a hedge bottom at Bodley (bottom)

Clay pipes were first used in Britain in the 16th century following the import of tobacco. North Devon, traded with the new colonies in America and there is evidence of clay pipemaking in Barnstaple from the early 17th century. There is a lot of information on-line about styles and dating of Brtish clay pipes, however as a rough guide early pipes tend to have small bowls as tobacco was relatively expensive. Over time bowls became larger and in Victorian times the churchwarden pipe which had a characteristic curving stem of up to 1 metre in length became fashionable. There was a clay pipe manufactory near Bear Street in Barnstaple in the 19th century and evidence of others elsewhere in the district.

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