PREBENDARY Terry Stokes, who has spent a lifetime gathering a collection of 300 pieces of Delftware – many with biblical scenes – will talk about it at Alton’s Allen Gallery next Thursday, October 27, at 7.30pm.

The gallery, on Church Street, houses a representative display of 1,600 items from Hampshire’s ceramics collection.

They include a large 750-year-old pottery jug, contemporary studio ceramics, Chinese porcelain, Bow, Coalport, Chelsea, Spode, Wedgwood and Worcester English porcelain, and items from Dresden, Meissen, Sèvres.

The collection is based on a 1943 bequest of more than 300 items of English pottery from Major Ross Bignell, who spent much of his childhood in Alton and retired to nearby Tunworth, where he took an active interest in the Curtis Museum and became vice-chairman of the friends of the museum group.

Other substantial bequests followed and many pieces have been purchased with the aid of trusts.

Much of the early English rural pottery and stoneware is humorous, such as mugs that spill over your face when you try to drink from them and mugs that contain ceramic frogs which only appear as you drink down.

The collection extends into the 20th Century with studio pottery from artists such as Alan Caiger-Smith, Siddig el Ngoumi, and Richard Batterham.

Major Bignell also bequeathed collections of wine labels and shoe buckles dating back to the 18th Century, and a set of medallions commemorating events in the Peninsula War against Napoleon 200 years ago.

The tile collection, spanning the period from the 1600s to the 1900s, includes 300 pieces of blue and white Delftware, some made in Holland but a lot of it by English manufacturers.

Tickets for the talk cost £5, which includes light refreshments. Book at the gallery or call 01420 82802.