Nestled in the Hampshire countryside, on the border with Surrey, sits Grayshott Pottery. You may not have heard of it, but if you’ve ever had a cup of coffee at Gail's or dined at Wagamama, chances are you've used its pottery.

This unassuming building might appear to be just a gift emporium and café, but it also houses the bustling Surrey Ceramics, which produces around 8,000 pieces of pottery every week. Each piece is handmade by a team of more than 30 skilled potters. It is one of southern England’s last few remaining working potteries and is used by celebrity chefs, including Jamie Oliver.

Grayshott Pottery
Potters hard at work at Surrey Ceramics (Grayshott Pottery)

Pots, cups, and jugs, to name but a few, can be found in restaurant chains across the UK, from Wagamama and Nando’s, to Brasserie Blanc, Frankie & Benny’s, Bella Italia, and all 140 Gail's Bakery sites. But the sites reach isn’t limited to the UK; last year, Surrey Ceramics shipped their wares to 12 countries worldwide.

Toby Hutchins, sales director of Surrey Ceramics, said: “After a tough COVID period, Surrey Ceramics has emerged stronger than ever. The past three years have been incredibly successful, with production numbers at the highest level in the company’s 68-year history and our workforce is now at a record 68 employees.”

Thanks to surging orders, Surrey Ceramics has had to expand to meet demand. In April this year, a ribbon was cut on a £500,000 warehouse, two years in the making, marking the largest expansion in the company’s history – quite an achievement since Grayshott Pottery opened in 1956.

Warehouse grand opening at Grayshott Pottery
Warehouse grand opening at Grayshott Pottery (Grayshott Pottery)

“The new warehouse is already paying dividends,” said Toby. “We can supply faster and are now in the process of expanding the factory space as well. It’s fantastic. It shows how much the company has grown and the direction we’re heading in the future.”

He added: “While supplying big name brands such as Gail's Bakery, Wagamama, Young's Brewery, and Bella Italia, supplying smaller chains and individual restaurants, cafés, and pubs mean just as much to us. We make everything bespoke, so every piece we sell is significant to us.

“As achievements go, I couldn’t be prouder to be part of Surrey Ceramics and Grayshott Pottery. I extend my thanks to everyone involved. Without our amazing employees, none of this could be achieved.”

Grayshott Pottery
Plates so good, you could eat your dinner off them (Grayshott Pottery)

Of the 68 people employed across the café, Grayshott Pottery, and Surrey Ceramics, 90 per cent live within a seven-mile radius. The company operates as an employee benefit trust, established to benefit its current, past, and future employees, giving each staff member a vested interest in the company's success.

This family, local run business sources all its clay from Stoke-on-Trent, proving that in the English countryside, they still make things like they used to.

So, if you fancy watching the potters at work, creating not just functional pieces but works of art, head over to Grayshott Pottery. You might even leave with your own piece of handmade pottery, available at the on-site gift shop.