Guy Sydenham (1916 - 2005) & Poole Pottery Atlantis

Guy is one of my favorite potters. His work has that element of inventiveness, humour, eccentricity, delight all mixed in with two heaped tablespoon fulls of pure skill, that I wish I had. Few have his skill. I keep coming across new items he made that simply delight me. The love and care he put into the smallest thing is astounding. My collection of his work is a little eclectic and lacking in quality. For a broader representation of pieces please see the link to the Virtual Museum of Poole.

The slideshow works best on PC. It scrolls through all the below images full-sized.


Poole Pottery Atlantis Vases A20/3

So some of the smaller A20 Atlantis vases. The A20 would have been the range and  the number after would have been the size. Most commercial potteries had some way of referencing their wares so that they could be re-ordered correctly. I believe Jenny Haigh worked at Poole from 1973 to 1976 and Catherine Connett a similar time. These vases are typical 70s Atlantis.

Left - A Jenny Haigh marked A20/3 POOLE ENGLAND JH - height  135mm. 

Centre - Guy Sydenham, marked GS POOLE ENGLAND - height  140mm. 

Right - Catherine Connett, marked CC A20/3 POOLE ENGLAND - height 135mm

Poole Pottery Atlantis Vases A20/4

The JH 204 stands for 20/4 shape 20 height 4. The odd one out her is the right one by Guy. It seems that it may be earlier then the others with just a painted 44 mark. It's not totally successfully and even a little rough or clumsy. It has a simple white interior glaze and a flat rim unlike the others.

Left - A Jenny Haigh marked  JH POOLE ENGLAND A204- height  170mm. 

Centre - Guy Sydenham, marked GS POOLE ENGLAND A20/4- height  170mm. 

Right - Guy Sydenham, painted mark GS 44 - height 145mm

Poole Pottery Atlantis Vases A20/5

So these are the taller vases for pattern A20. One touch Guy did was to finish the lip of the vase with an ultra smooth glistening edge. It works and is the better transition from the the textured outside to the blackness on the interior. The back to back BB is the personal mark of Beatrice Bolton

Tall Zig Zag Marks - Beatrice Bolton, marked POOLE ENGLAND GS BB - height  210mm.

Tall with Circle Marks - Guy Sydenham marked  A20/5 POOLE ENGLAND GS - height  195mm.

Small Vase - Beatrice Bolton, marked POOLE ENGLAND BB - width 90mm

Joan Sydenham Bead Necklace 1

Joan Sydenham made these bead necklaces. There were also bracelets from the same beads. Some of the designs have larger pendant. Sadly Joan passed on in 2019. Each of the beads would have been fired and Joan must have been extremely careful to avoid the glaze running and individual beads sticking to the kiln shelf. You can see that the beads have a fired top side and a unglazed bottom. Most of the beads are small at about 13mm diameter by 9mm wide (fingernail size) and the large rectangular beads being 19mm x 12mm x 7mm. 

420mm length (so twice that of beads)

Joan Sydenham Bead Necklace 2

This necklace includes a little face. I emailed Russel Sydenham and got this reply;

Hello Alex

Mother made all the beads,but the face does look like dads work. Maybe he made it as a bit of fun, who can say. I didn't work with dad for very long on the island, or though I was around a lot of the time.

Best wishes Russel

380mm length (so twice that of beads)

Guy Sydenham Bellarmine

Bellarmine are a type of decorated salt-glazed stoneware that was manufactured in Europe throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. Guy made these is various size and shapes. I believe Guy originally made these for a commission. The one of the left has wonderful typical 'orange peel' salt  glaze texture. These are often unsigned and often found with simple paper label.

Left Bellarmine height 200mm unmarked

Right Bellarmine height 230mm, unmarked

Guy Sydenham Rokko Mermaid Stand

Rokko art by Guy. This is only a stand for a large mermaid. It only hints at the wonderful things Guy made. 



Guy Sydenham Napkin Rings

This set of six napkin rings are quite prosaic but it's good to know that they are by Guy and I post them as reference if anyone else has a set. Made on Long Island or Green Island.

Hello Alex

Yes the Napkin rings were made on green island by my father Guy Sydenham, I can remember him making them, he probably only made one batch so that may be all or most of them.

Best wishes Russel

Unmarked, approx 50mm

Guy Sydenham Lamp Base

This large lamp base would have been made in the 60s. There was a series of them all about the same height but with different patterns and textures. it's has the vibrant orange glaze Guy used.



Cathrine Connet Black Clay Vase

The black clay is far less common with limited supply it was I believe reserved for some items. This one is by Catherine Connet. An A91 vase with the flared rim. The next size up was the No A92 at 225mm high.

Marked CC A91 POOLE ENGLAND, height 185mm

Guy Sydenham Miniature Salt Pig

Guy would fill the spaces in the kiln with miniature items which would fire quite happily sat between larger items. I think it's always good business to have smaller items people can buy with change rather than rely on larger items. A sale is a sale and better that people go away with something rather than empty handed. Do not be fooled into thinking these were just throw away items. As much care went into these miniatures. this mini slat pig is as light as a feather. He even bothered to put the finial on the top and run a hole through it. Salt glazed stoneware.  45mm diameter.

Miniature Salt Pig - GS

Spoon - Ducks Foot


Guy Sydenham Monkey Buttons

The vases made by Guy which include monkeyfaces are great fun and highly sought after. Every monkey face is different.

These are just a few of the faces made into buttons, the story goes that Guy made a set for Tony Morris in the early 60s at Poole Pottery as Tony's duffle coat was missing some buttons. I believe they came in sets of six.


Guy Sydenham Golden Jubilee Plate 2002

This plate is a little clumsy and the front is nothing to write home about. The back is far mare interesting.

It came from John Benfield.  The quote is from his eBay selling description.

"This plate was given to me by Guy during the time I was helping him to write A Potters Life II. This was how Guy paid me for my time and materials. It is in perfect condition and a great example of Guys skills both as a modeller and a calligrapher. The reverse shows Guy's mark plus the Courts Leet mark along with a number of the seals he made and used to decorate his work with. It is glazed using his favourite method of Tin Glaze over Copper Carbonate"

Spoon - Ducks Foot


 Alan White Helmet Lamp

I'll put this here but strictly speaking it belongs elsewhere. I just can't afford the £800+ needed to buy an original Guy Sydenham one. The helmet lamps are made in the shape of a helmet with an oval opening and a face within. The inside is typically brightly glazed and coloured. There are base holes so a light fitting can go inside. 

I bought this one in 2014 from Cottees Auctions in Wareham (before their move to Bournemouth). 



 ‘A Potter’s Life’  The Island Potters Of Poole - Guy Sydenham

‘A Potter’s Life II’ Portland Rokko Art - Poole Pottery Revisited - Mermaid Studios by Guy Sydenham and John Benfield

The two books on Guy's work and Atlantis are well worth mentioning. The first, A Potters Life was published by Guy in 1999 and tells the story of his life and work. The second book was published in 2004 A Potters Life II. This book includes the Guy's Rokko Art and some fabulous colour images of the items produced since publication of the first book. They are both well worth picking up if you are interested in Guy and his work. It would be so good to have books like this on all British C20th potters, so much information had been lost. So thanks to Guy for taking the time to put everything in print.

The books states inside the cover that APL1 was published in an edition of 1000 copies, 500 signed and APLII in and edition  of 500 signed copies. They do come up for sale on ebay and Amazon regularly.

Below is a link to a forum post @ 20th Century Forum by John Benfield who helped Guy write the second book.

20th Century Forum

Virtual Museum Of Poole - Guy Sydenham

Fantastic site dedicated to Poole Pottery, with an unrivalled collection of photographs of Guys work. Well worth a visit if you are at all interested in Guy or Poole Pottery.

See link at the bottom of the page.

Virtual Museum of Poole - Guy Sydenham