Eleanor Coade - artist in artificial stone
Eleanor Coade was a remarkable woman who rose to the top of the male-dominated trade of artificial stone-making in the 18th century. Her own brand of stone was widely used in some of the best gardens of the day. Timur Tatlioglu looks at her contribution to the art of garden ornamentation.
Eleanor Coade, the daughter of a wool merchant from Exeter, was the inventor of Coade stone, one of the most influential materials of the late 18th century and employed by many of the great architects and designers of the period.
Coade stone was a type of mouldable artificial stoneware. It could stand the greatest tests of weathering and erosion thanks to its unique properties, created to a closely guarded secret recipe. Because of its versatility, Coade stone became a highly popular medium for the creation of architectural details, commemorative and funerary monuments, fonts, garden ornaments and furniture. More than 650 pieces have been traced, some as far away as Brazil and Russia (Kelly 2004).
Eleanor Coade ran her business from Narrow Wall, Lambeth, a site now believed to be under the Royal Festival Hall. It was from there that she was able to create and manage the vast number of pieces that went out to architects such as Sir John Soane and John Nash, and in doing so promoted the company as a key component of the neo-classical and Regency movements.