Coade stone or Lithodipyra or Lithodipra (Ancient Greek: λίθος/δίς/πυρά, lit.'stone fired twice') is stoneware that was often described as an artificial stone in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It was used for moulding neoclassical statues, architectural decorations and garden ornaments of the highest quality that remain virtually weatherproof today.

The South Bank Lion, on Westminster Bridge. Modelled by William F. Woodington and Grade II* listed by English Heritage

Coade stone features were produced by appointment to George III and the Prince Regent for St George's Chapel, Windsor; The Royal Pavilion, Brighton; Carlton House, London; the Royal Naval College, Greenwich; and refurbishment of Buckingham Palace in the 1820s.[1][2]

The product (originally known as Lithodipyra) was created around 1770 by Eleanor Coade, who ran Coade's Artificial Stone Manufactory, Coade and Sealy, and Coade in Lambeth, London, from 1769 until her death in 1821.[1] It continued to be manufactured by her last business partner, William Croggon, until 1833.[1][3]


Eleanor Coade's home, Belmont House, in Lyme Regis, Dorset, with Coade stone ornamental façade

In 1769, Mrs Coade[a][b][c] bought Daniel Pincot's struggling artificial stone business at Kings Arms Stairs, Narrow Wall, Lambeth, a site now under the Royal Festival Hall.[2][5] This business developed into Coade's Artificial Stone Manufactory with Coade in charge, such that within two years (1771) she fired Pincot for "representing himself as the chief proprietor".[1][2][6]

Coade did not invent artificial stone. Various lesser quality ceramic precursors to Lithodipyra had been both patented and manufactured over the forty (or sixty)[3] years prior to the introduction of her product. She was, however, probably responsible for perfecting both the clay recipe and the firing process. It is possible that Pincot's business was a continuation of that run nearby by Richard Holt, who had taken out two patents in 1722 for a kind of liquid metal or stone and another for making china without the use of clay, but there were many start-up artificial stone businesses in the early 18th century of which only Coade's succeeded.[5][7][8]

The company did well and boasted an illustrious list of customers such as George III and members of the English nobility.[d] In 1799, Coade appointed her cousin John Sealy (son of her mother's sister, Mary), already working as a modeller, as a partner in her business.[8] The business then traded as Coade and Sealy until his death in 1813, when it reverted to Coade.

In 1799, she opened a show room, Coade's Gallery, on Pedlar's Acre at the Surrey end of Westminster Bridge Road, to display her products.[1][2][10][11]

In 1813, Coade took on William Croggan from Grampound in Cornwall, a sculptor and distant relative by marriage (second cousin once removed). He managed the factory until her death eight years later in 1821[11] whereupon he bought the factory from the executors for c. £4000. Croggan supplied a lot of Coade stone for Buckingham Palace; however, he went bankrupt in 1833 and died two years later. Trade declined, and production came to an end in the early 1840s.


Lion Gate (above), an entrance into Kew Gardens, with its Coade stone lion statue on top. Coade stone unicorn statue (below) atop Unicorn Gate, another entrance into the Gardens.


Coade stone is a type of stoneware. Mrs Coade's own name for her products was Lithodipyra, a name constructed from ancient Greek words meaning 'stone-twice-fire' (λίθος/δίς/πυρά), or 'twice-fired stone'. Its colours varied from light grey to light yellow (or even beige) and its surface is best described as having a matte finish.

The ease with which the product could be moulded into complex shapes made it ideal for large statues, sculptures and sculptural façades. One-off commissions were expensive to produce, as they had to carry the entire cost of creating a mould. Whenever possible moulds were kept for many years of repeated use.


The recipe for Coade stone is claimed to be used today[when?] by Coade Ltd.

Its manufacture required extremely careful control and skill in kiln firing over a period of days, difficult to achieve with its era's fuels and technology. Coade's factory was the only really successful manufacturer.

The formula used was:

This mixture was also referred to as "fortified clay", which was kneaded before insertion into a 1,100 °C (2,000 °F) kiln for firing over four days[9] – a production technique very similar to brick manufacture.

Depending on the size and fineness of detail in the work, a different size and proportion of Coade grog was used. In many pieces a combination of grogs was used, with fine grogged clay applied to the surface for detail, backed up by a more heavily grogged mixture for strength.


One of the more striking features of Coade stone is its high resistance to weathering, with the material often faring better than most types of natural stone in London's harsh environment.[citation needed] Prominent examples listed below have survived without apparent wear and tear for 150 years. There were, however, notable exceptions.[e] A few works produced by Coade, mainly dating from the later period, have shown poor resistance to weathering due to a bad firing in the kiln where the material was not brought up to a sufficient temperature.[citation needed]


Coade stone was only superseded after Mrs Coade's death in 1821, by products using naturally exothermic Portland cement as a binder. It appears to have been largely phased out by the 1840s.

Not entirely however: there are interesting examples of its continued use for architectural embellishments as late as 1887, in some grand Domestic Revival-style houses, built by the architect Frank H. Humphreys, on Pevensey Road, St Leonards-on-Sea, UK.[citation needed]

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Over 650 pieces are still in existence worldwide.[16][17]

Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Met - New York City
Faith - 'Overpainted Coade stone'
by John Bacon the Elder. 1791
Croome Court, Upton-upon-Severn. South staircase guarded by two Coade stone sphinxes.
"Statue of Hygieia", St Bernard's Well, by the Water of Leith, Edinburgh
Memorial to Frances Brown, daughter in law of Lancelot "Capability" Brown
The Gibberd Garden, Harlow, Essex, created by Sir Frederick Gibberd
The Medici Vase, Kew Gardens, from a pair ordered by George IV.
George III at Lincoln Castle
Portobello Beach, three Coade Stone columns in the community garden at 70 Promenade (John Street), rescued from the garden of Argyle House
Lord Hill's Column, Shrewsbury. A 17 ft (5.2 m) tall statue of General Rowland Hill, 1st Viscount Hill, modelled in Coade stone by Joseph Panzetta
Captain William Bligh's Tomb surmounted by an eternal flame. Church of St Mary-at-Lambeth, (now the Garden Museum).
Frankland Monument, Stanmer Park Brighton
- 'The Oxford Gates'.[95] The central piers were designed by William Kent in 1731[96] Pavilions at either end were added in the 1780s to the design of the architect Vincenzo Valdrè. The piers have coats of arms in Coade stone.
Stowe Park
'The Cobham Monument'
The plinth is surmounted by Coade stone lions holding shields. (1778)
- 'The Gothic Cross' erected in 1814 from Coade stone on the path linking the Doric Arch to the Temple of Ancient Virtue. It was erected by the 1st Duke of Buckingham and Chandos as a memorial to his mother Lady Mary Nugent. It was demolished in the 1980s by a falling elm tree. The National Trust rebuilt the cross in 2017 using several of the surviving pieces of the monument.
- 'The Cobham Monument' is the tallest structure in the gardens. It incorporates a square plinth with corner buttresses surmounted by Coade stone lions holding shields added in 1778.[97]
- 'The Gothic Umbrello' also called the Conduit House a small octagonal pavilion dating from the 1790s. The coat of arms of the Marquess of Buckingham, dated 1793, made from Coade stone are placed over the entrance door.
Restored gateway to St Mary's Church Tremadog
- Sundial, 1825. The sundial in the grounds of the hall is in Coade stone, and is 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) high. It has a triangular plan with concave sides. At the bottom is a plinth with meander decoration on a circular base, the sides are moulded with festoons at the top, in the angles are caryatids, and at the top is a fluted frieze and an egg-and-dart cornice.[106] (52°41′33″N 2°17′04″W / 52.69258°N 2.28442°W / 52.69258; -2.28442 (Sundial, Weston Park, Staffordshire))
- Two urns and planting basin, 1825. The urns and planting basin are in Coade stone, and are to the southwest of the 'Temple of Diana'. The basin has a diameter of 2 metres (6 ft 7 in), with a cabled rim to the kerb. The urns are on a base, and each has a short stem, and a wide body with guilloché decoration and carvings of lions' heads.[107] (52°41′28″N 2°16′55″W / 52.69121°N 2.28204°W / 52.69121; -2.28204 (Two urns and planting basin, Weston Park, Staffordshire))
The triumphal arch at Park Crescent, Worthing

Birkbeck Image libraryEdit

In 2020, the library of Birkbeck, University of London launched the Coade Stone image collection online, consisting of digitised slides of examples of Coade stone bequeathed by Alison Kelly, whose book Coade Stone was described by Caroline Stanford as "the most authoritative treatment on the subject".[112][113]


Modern replication claimsEdit

The recipe and techniques for producing Coade stone are claimed to have been rediscovered by Coade Ltd. from its workshops in Wilton, Wiltshire. In 2000, Coade ltd started producing statues, sculptures and architectural ornaments.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ There is some modern confusion between Eleanor and her mother (Eleanor, Elinore), as to which one ran the factory. This is primarily because of Miss Eleanor Coade's customary use of the title Mrs because this was a commonplace 'courtesy title' for any unmarried woman in business. However, analysis of the bills shows that Eleanor Coade (daughter) was fully in charge from 1771. (Alison Kelly (art historian), Oxford National Dictionary of Biography (ONDB)).
  2. ^ Alison Kelly (art historian) states on page 23 of Mrs Coade's Stone – "Since mother and daughter had the same name, confusion has reigned over the contribution of each of them to the manufactory. The widow Coade was of course Mrs, and it has been assumed that any mention of Mrs Coade must refer to her. Rupert Gunnis, for instance, believed that the widow ran the factory until her death in her late eighties, in 1796. What is not generally realised is that women in business, in Georgian times, had the courtesy title of Mrs so in the Coade records, it normally refers to Miss Coade. Bills were usually headed Eleanor Coade, but two, as early as 1771, for Hatfield Priory, Essex, and 1773, for work at Burton upon Trent Town Hall, were made out to Miss Coade, showing that from the early days she was in charge. The only references that specifically concern the mother are the first two entries for the factory in the Lambeth poor rate books, when the rate was paid by Widow Coade."
  3. ^ It appears that the modern identity confusion dates from 1951 (or earlier) when Sir Howard Roberts and Walter H. Godfrey published the Survey of London: volume 23 – Lambeth: South Bank and Vauxhall, and their confusion about the Coade family genealogy led to both gaps and false conclusions. Typically this state of knowledge was then reiterated by Rupert Gunnis in his 1953 Dictionary of British Sculptors, 1660–1851. More recently, the 'British History Online' website has given credence to the otherwise-excellent Roberts and Godfrey Survey of London,[4] and some other internet sites have repeated the claims.
  4. ^ Mrs. Coade sold to "a Debrett's full of English lords and Dukes."[9]
  5. ^ Three sources describe Rossi's statue of George IV erected in the Royal Crescent, Brighton as "unable to withstand the weathering effects of sea-spray and strong wind: such that, by 1807 the fingers on the sculpture's left hand had been destroyed, and soon afterwards the whole right arm dropped off."[12][13][14] By contrast however Fashionable Brighton, 1820–1860 by Antony Dale (online) describes similar damage as 'wore badly' but does not attribute 'broken fingers, nose, mantle and arm on an unloved statue' to weathering or poor quality Coade stone. In 1819, after considerable complaints, the relic was removed and its present state is undocumented.[15]


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Works citedEdit

External linksEdit

  • In 2021 Historic England launched a crowd sourced Enrich the List map of Coade stone in England.
"Eleanor Coade, Pioneer of Coade Stone | Historic England". Retrieved 4 February 2022.
Google - My Maps "Coade Stone". Google My Maps. Retrieved 4 February 2022.

Gallery of images.