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A short history of the

Whitefriars Glassworks

It has taken me many years of research trying to trace the history of the Whitefriars Glassworks; it was all out there but needed bringing together.  During that time I have come across conflicting information as to dates and ownership of the Glassworks.  17th and early 18th century records are very scant and very few and far between, to say the least!  The information provided here have come from Company records, The London Gazette, Survey of London, The Tatler, Statute of Uses, etc., dating back as far as the late 17th and early 18th century.


The first home of the Whitefriars glassworks was near the legal Inns of Court in the Temple and beside the River Thames. As the name indicates, the site had originally been a monastery of the Carmelite Fathers, whose white habits made the monks known among the populace as the White Fryars. The earliest records I have found show that one William Davies acquired the land soon after The Fire of London in 1666 and founded the original works there in 1680.  The area had somewhat of a bad reputation but this would have been outweighed by its nearness to the Thames and its ready access to the wharfs for the Newcastle coal and for sand, clay and the raw materials for making glass. Davies first advertised his glassworks in the new magazine, The Tatler, in 1710.  Succeeding Davis came Antony Seal in 1719, then his son, Anthony Seal, in 1750, John Hopton/Thomas Hanson/Carey Stafford in 1769, Stephen Hall in 1779, Stephen Hall and John Holmes Sr in 1790, John Holmes Jr  in 1805, James Powell in 1834, and finally, G H Zeal in 1952. 


The firm's name was changed to Powell & Sons (Whitefriars) Ltd in 1919 and the growth in business demanded new premises. In 1923 they moved from their old factory near Fleet street to the new factory in Wealdstone, near Harrow. In 1962 Zeal's changed the company's name back to Whitefriars Glass Ltd.  The fires were finally quenched in October 1980.

© Rodina Prince 2019







Screenshot 2022-11-16 at 17-28-38 The Tatler .jpg

Hopton, Hanson, and Stafford Trade Card: c.1759

William Davis, The Tatler, 1710

Courtesy of Richard Caethoven


It is known that two glasshouses existed at Whitefriars, a short distance apart, and in the same vicinity as Salisbury Court but nearer to the River Thames and separated in time by a period of about ten years. The earliest was located to the west of White Friars Dock, in the vicinity of Dung Wharf, with a map of c.1708 showing its position close to the River Thames. Unfortunately, there appears to be no indication as to who established the works, although it was certainly advertising its wares around the beginning of the eighteenth century.


The London Gazette of November 1709, states that ‘The white glass house at the lower end of Water-Lane in Fleet-Street is now at work, where all persons may be furnished with all sorts and sizes of the best flint, and other glasses at reasonable rates and made to any patterns.  This was followed in August 1710 with an advertisement, this time in the Tatler, proclaiming ‘at the flint glass house in White-Fryars, near the Temple, are to be sold by wholesale or retale all sorts of decanters, drinking glasses, crewits, &c. or glasses made to any pattern, of the best flint, at 12d. per pound; as also, all sorts of common drinking-glasses; and other things, made in ordinary flint glass, at reasonable rates

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