Richard Newnham (workshop), Pickleherring pottery dish depicting Crispin, Crispinian, and Ursula, 1677. FM: C.1334-1928 © Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge.
Thomas Deloney, The Pleasant and Princely History of the Gentle-Craft. London, 1675. Reproduced by kind permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library.

Craftsmen who made a good living from selling their wares could celebrate their success by commissioning items in their turn. This dish, made by the Pickleherring Pottery (Southwark) in 1677, probably commemorates the marriage of a shoemaker. The shoemaker is depicted as St Crispin, the patron saint of shoemakers, who was sent to Canterbury with shoes for the emperor’s daughter Ursula.

The story of their romance and marriage was told by Thomas Deloney, in The Pleasant and Princely History of the Gentle-Craft, first published in 1597 (and most famous as a source for Thomas Dekker’s 1599 play, The Shoemaker’s Holiday). The popular folk-knowledge that it contains elevates the craft of shoe-making to the stuff of romance. The design on this dish is actually taken from an illustration in the 1675 edition of Deloney’s work.