If you’ve enjoyed afternoon tea in one of our Houses, you’ll recognise the distinctive black and white floral chinaware that’s made exclusively for Soho House by Burleigh. The world famous pottery has been producing ceramics from its grade 2* listed Middleport factory in Stoke on Trent – the heart of Staffordshire pottery country – for over 150 years. Subscribing to the ‘if it ain’t broke’ philosophy, some of the original Victorian machinery is still in use today.

 

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Burleigh is known for its intricate floral prints which come in a range of colours (the black and white is just for us though). The method used to decorate each piece of pottery with these iconic patterns is known as ‘under glaze tissue printing’. This 200-year-old technique has been passed down from one generation of highly skilled craftsmen to the next and is done completely by hand.

Burleigh’s engraver Chris Glendinning engraves copper rollers with the floral design, before the inked rollers transfer the pattern to tissue-thin paper, which is applied to each piece of chinaware. In the 18th and 19th centuries this method was common amongst the Staffordshire potteries but today Burleigh is one of the last manufacturers to use this traditional, labour-intensive process. And because every step is done by hand, no two pieces of Burleighware are the same.

 

Step 1

The freshly printed tissue is cut to the rough size of the cup.

Step 2

The tissue is fitted onto the ware by hand, carefully shaping the tissue to fit the curves.

Step 3

The excess is trimmed off, first with scissors...

Step 4

...and then the edges are trimmed before the print is rubbed on.

   

The two designs that we use on our china are ‘Felicity’ and ‘Calico’. Felicity is a delicate elderflower pattern originating in the 1930s, while Calico’s prunus blossom design dates back to the late ‘60s Victoriana revival with its roots in Chinese porcelain. The patterns are meant to be mixed and matched – that’s Burleigh’s signature aesthetic and fits our relaxed approach to dining too. The quintessentially English look travels amazingly well - those monochrome florals look equally at ease in the Allis in Chicago and London's Dean Street Townhouse.

Burleigh china is as sturdy as it is pretty – it has to be to withstand heavy use in our restaurants and clubs. The cups, plates and teapots are made from pure English earthenware (the clay comes from Devon and Cornwall), which is fired to a high temperature to make it durable, as well as dishwasher and microwave safe. There’s a reason it's collected by fans around the world – each teacup, saucer and teapot is a perfect piece of design, combining practicality and usefulness with a style that never dates. And anything that adds a fitting sense of occasion to our mid-afternoon brew is to be cherished.

 

Dean Street Townhouse

Experience a British institution - afternoon tea at Dean Street Townhouse