Coade Stone

'On Narrow Wall is a manufactury of artificial stone, established in 1769 by Mr Coade. The preparation is cast in moulds and burnt, and is intended to answer every purpose of carved stone. It is possessed of the peculiar property of resisting frost, and consequently it retains its sharpness in which it excels every species of stone, and even equals marble.' - Written 1806.

Nearly 200 years later, many of the Coade Stone statues and carvings still retain that sharpness, more perhaps due to their resistance to acid pollution in towns than to frost. The manufactury was set up in Lambeth in 1769, and Coade Stone was made from that time first by Mr Coade, then after his death by his wife, Eleanor Coade (d.1821), and by her relative Sealy and by W. Croggan through to about 1840. The factory was on the site where the former County Hall now stands, almost opposite the Houses of Parliament. Mrs Coade was able to attract some very eminent sculptors to work in her material, including Flaxman, John Bacon RA, and Rossi, and Coade Stone decoration and sculpture was used on important and lesser buildings all over Britain.

The most impressive piece in London is the large Coade Stone lion now on the south side of Westminster Bridge. In the nearby Museum of Garden History (by Lambeth Palace) are various items of Coade Stone, and two tombs of the material. The statues outside the John Soane Museum are of Coade Stone, as are the vases on the balustrade of Somerset House (where the Courtauld Institute is - see the walk along the Strand and Fleet Street). Another creation of Soane, Pitshanger Manor in Ealing, has Coade Stone Egyptian Caryatids in the Breakfast room. Many other capitals to pillars, coats of arms, cherubic figures on buildings of the late 18th Century are of the material.

Top of page

Background information

Home