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All About 'Farmers Arms' and 'God Speed The Plough' Mugs

For many generations Cider formed part of the way of life among farming communities over a wide area of the West Country.

Cider was made on individual farms and was stored in large wooden casks each holding up to 100 gallons or more.  The cider was drunk from traditional Cider Mugs of varying design and capacity with one, two or three handles.

The 'Farmers Arms' mugs bear an agricultural theme and were used extensively in the cider drinking areas of the West of England almost two centuries ago.

The two handles serve for passing the mug from one person to another in the friendly atmosphere of the Cider Cellar. 


Extracted from: www.fionalake.com

                                                                          In God We Trust - The Farmers Arms                                                                          

Let the Wealthy and Great

Roll in Splendour and State

I envy them not I declare it

I eat my own lamb

My chickens and ham.

I shear my own fleece and I wear it

I have lawns, I have bow'rs

I have fruits, I have flow'rs

The lark is my morning alarmer

So jolly boys now, here's God speed the Plough,

Long life and success to the Farmer.

While the verse doesn't mention any of the headaches farmers have always had to contend with - the vagaries of the season, physically demanding work, increasing costs and decreasing prices - it does sum up very nicely the feeling of independence and satisfying productivity that is at the heart of every farmer.

Apparently dating from the late 1700's up until the middle of the last century, quite a lot of china and pottery was produced in England with variations of the Farmers Arms poem.  The Adams family produced pottery in Staffordshire back to the 17th century although they are no longer in existence some of the designs are still manufactured by Wedgwood.  

Burgess & Leigh (B & L Ltd., Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent) also produced pottery with the 'Farmers Arms' poem on it around a century ago - cups and saucers and plates, and a large punchbowl with a set of mugs to match.  Their work tended to have a brighter red, blue and yellow than the pottery produced by Adams, however they use the same black transfer technique.

Burgess & Leigh apparently also produced a mug with the following verse:

                                                                            We plough the fertile meadow

                                                                               And sow the furrow'd land

                                                                               But yet the waving harvest

                                                                              Depends on God's own hand

                                                                                'Tis his mercy gives us

                                                                               The sunshine and the rain

                                                                             That paints in verdant beauty

                                                                               The mountain and the plain.


There are also ironstone mugs produced by Burleigh Pottery, Staffordshire, (producing since 1851 and best known for producing blue and white china, eg with the well known 'calico chintz' pattern) titled 'God Speed the Plough' and 'Industry Produceth Wealth' with the same 'Farmers Arms' poem.

Leeds pottery apparently also produced 'Farmers Arms' crockery.  Sunderland also produced pearlware (pink lustre and black transfer printed) Farmers Arms plaques and mugs etc - some with the 'Sailors Farewell' on the reverse, as did other makers.

Most recently, Wade Potteries, Staffordshire, produced a limited edition run of 500 two-handled cider mugs with the 'Farmers Arms' verse on them for the Taunton Cider Company in 1981.

In addition to mugs, oversized cups and saucers, soup bowls, plates and punch bowl sets there are jugs, often around 17 - 18 cm (7") high.

One 'Farmers Arms' jug produced is most unusual because it is very much brighter and more expensive in style than the others that were made - with a solid, bright sky, blue background and gold leaf edging - much more sophisticated glazing than is usual.  Most Farmers Arms pottery and china is simple in design and muted in colour (usually with the black transfer print being the only decoration, or muted colours surrounded by a black transfer design border), in keeping with the sentiment of the verses printed on them.

Most of this pottery and china is illustrated with farming equipment of the time, (winnowers, ploughs, rakes, pitchforks, shovels, axes, barrels, pails, scales etc) livestock (horses, cattle, sheep and poultry), and produce such as a wheatcrop and wheatsheaf decorated with intertwining leaves and scrolls.  Often the farmers wife is shown hard at work churning butter while the farmer pours a mug of ale (hopefully to offer to his hardworking wife - but probably not, given the era of production!). 

Extracted from: www.fionalake.com

By Kind Permission   



God Speed the Plow

Though the wealthy and great Live in splendor and state I envy them not, I declare it

For I grow my own hams

My own ewes, my own lambs

And I shear my own fleece and I wear it

By plowing and sowing

By reaping and mowing

All nature provides me with plenty

With a cellar well stored

And a bountiful board

And my garden affords every dainty

For here I am king I can dance, drink and sing

Let no one approach as a stranger I'll hunt when it's quiet

Come on, let us try it

Dull thinking drives anyone crazy

I have lawns, I have bowers

I have fruits, I have flowers

And the lark is my morning alarmer So all farmers now

Here's God Speed the Plow

Long life and success to the farmer


The following are potteries who have at one time produced God Speed The Plough or Farmers Arms Mugs.

This list is by no means exhaustive and if you know of others I would love to hear from you.


F.R Gray & Sons Ltd.

Portland Pottery Ltd. Regal Works. Cobridge. (Pre 153 when taken over by Cobridge Pottery)

AW Gale. Bee Farmer. Marlborough.

Grays Pottery. Staffordshire. (c.1933 - 1961)

Burgess & Leigh. Est. 1851. (BurleighWare)

Bristol Pottery


Kirkham. Stoke on Trent

Adams. (1914 - 1940)

Bourne & Leigh. (c 1895 - 1900) 

Venton Ware

Ridgway Shelton.

Herculaneum Pottery. Liverpool. (c1811). "The Farmers Arms" and "In God Our Trust" Printed Pearlware.

Dixon Austin & Co. Sunderland.

Leeds Pottery

Sandland. used by the pottery of Lancaster & Sandland Ltd of Dresden Works, Hanley, Staffs wwho traded from 1944 to 1970s.

Lowestoft Pottery. Earliest examples 18c.

Low Ford Pottery. South Hylton. (1796 - 1800).

Blackhurst & Tunnicliffe. Staffs. (c.1880)