The ‘Rostherne’ Goblet

Warrington – often referred to as the town of many industries – was once a major centre for glassmaking with pressed glass being a key speciality. Here Warrington History Society member John Slater recalls the fascinating history behind one example of fine commemorative glassware with Warrington connections – The ‘Rostherne’ Goblet.

goblet_bigCurrently on display in Warrington Museum is a large 23cm high mid-Victorian goblet finely engraved with the image of a church and a dedication to Sarah E. Saxon. The date 1866 appears under the dedication.

When the goblet was offered at a London saleroom in 2008 {eventually selling for £1,680}, the engraving was attributed to the Bohemian craftsman Wilhelm Pohl; largely because of the architectural subject and quality of the engraving. It is known that Pohl was living in Orford Lane, Warrington in the 1860’s near to the Orford Lane Glassworks then owned by Peter Robinson and Edward Bolton. A further investigation of the goblet has been undertaken to try and substantiate the Pohl attribution.



The goblet depicts Rostherne church as it looked in the mid-1800s (top). The lower image shows the church as it looks today.

This has been indenitfied as St. Mary’s, Rostherne near Knutsford, about 10 miles east of Warrington. At the end of the eighteenth century the Egertons, living at the nearby Tatton Park, bought the ‘advowson’ of the church (the right to choose the vicar). Extensive restoration work was carried out in 1888 by the architect A.W. Blomfield, commissioned by Wilbraham Egerton, first and last Earl Egerton. The goblet depicts the Church as it appeared in the mid-nineteenth century with four (2 x 2) ‘dormer’ windows in the roof of the nave; several chimneys from the various heating systems then in use and a quatrafoil window in the eastern wall of the Egerton Chapel.

Today there are three ‘dormer’ windows arranged linearly along the nave, the chimneys and quatrafoil window have gone. Also, as might be expected, the modern churchyard is much larger than the one shown in the engraving. The detail in the engraving is ample testement to the skill of the engraver. There is a house at the western end of the Church. In the summer this is obscured by a clump of trees, but the engraver indicates its presence by showing a window visible through the foliage. Amongst the vegetation on the right-hand side, below the Church, is the name Rosthorne, the nineteenth century spelling of the village name


the-dedicationSarah Ellen Saxon nee Carter was born in Warrington in 1846. She was the illegitimate daughter (no father’s name on the birth certificate) of Sarah Carter and grand-daughter of William and Catherine Carter nee Antrobus of Bank Street, Warrington. On 7 September 1865 Sarah Ellen married Thomas Saxon, glassblower, at the Wesleyan methodist chapel, then in Bank Street. Witnesses to the marriage were James England, glassblower and Mrs Sarah Brooks*. Sarah Ellen died in August 1866, shortly after giving birth to a daughter Edith Saxon. This accounts for the date on the goblet. It is noticeable that the quality of the date engraving is poor suggesting strongly that it was not made by the same hand as the other work on the goblet.

*Sarah Carter married Thomas Brooks in St James, Latchford in June 1862. She died in 1868, age 43.


Born in 1836 in Yorkshire; his father George Saxon, glassblower, was originally from Warrington but moved first to St. Helens and then to Worsbrough, near Barnsley (presumabley to the recently established Worsbrough Bridge Glassworks.) In the 1861 census Thomas is recorded as living in the Ancoats district of Manchester, occupation glassblower. After his marriage to Sarah Ellen Carter, the couple went to live in Winwick Road, close to the Orford Lane Glassworks. It seems very likely that Thomas worked here; the more so that James England was a witness at his wedding. The England family had a long standing relationship with Orford lane; James’s Grandfather was one of the founders of the Glassworks.


1 – Orford Lane Glassworks
2 – Wilhelm Pohl; Orford Lane
3 – Thomas and Sarah Ellen Saxon: 9 Winwick Road
4 – Thomas Saxon: Allen Street (address on marriage certificate)
5 – Sarah Ellen Carter: Bridge Street (address on marriage certificate)
6 – William and Catherine Carter: Bank Street



Although hopes of finding some direct documentary evidence to support the Pohl attribution have not been realised we do, nevertheless, have the coincidence of Saxon and Pohl, senior artisans in the glass industry, living near one another and probably involved in the same Glassworks. It therefore, together with the other evidence of subject and technique, seems reasonable to suggest that Thomas Saxon commisioned Wilhelm Pohl to engrave the goblet as a wedding gift to his wife. No direct evidence has been found to link Sarah Ellen Carter to Rostherne. But there may have been a connection with the Carter/ Antrobus* families. Edith Saxon is recorded in the 1871 census as being the foster-child of John and Elizabeth Vost, living in Rostherne. Unfortunately Edith died in1880; she is buried in St. Marys Churchyard with her foster-parents.


The Old Fox Inn in Buttermarket Street. Thomas Saxon was landlord of the inn prior to his death in 1885.

Thomas Saxon remarried after his first wife’s death and had another family; one son and four daughters. But no trace of the ‘Rostherne’ Goblet has been found until it reappeared in 2008. It seems likely that Elizabeth Saxon (second wife) disposed of it after Thomas Saxon’s death in 1885. At that time he was landlord of the Old Fox Inn, Buttermarket Street, Warrington. This was demolished when central Warrington was redeveloped in the early 1900’s.

*Catherine Carter was the daughter of Thomas and Ellen Antrobus. She was born in Lymm in 1797. Lymm is a neighboring parish to the west of Rostherne.

References & Acknowledgements

  • Bonhams; New Bond Street; Sale 15957, 17.12.2008, lot 383
  • Hajdamach, C.A (1987) J.Glass Assoc. 2 P. 41-54
  • England, C.A (1993) Thomas England Glassmaker, 1759-1821
  • Unpublished research note held at Warrington Library, Local Studies Section
  • Information on births, marriages and deaths were obtained from the relevant church and local record offices.
  • Thanks are due to Mr. Whitlow, churchwarden, and other members of St. Marys congregation who helped to define the changes that occured in the Church during the 19th century and assisted in the location of the grave of Thomas and Elizabeth Vost and their adopted daughter Edith Vost-Saxon.
  • Thanks also to members of staff at Warrington Museum and Art Gallery; in particular Mrs. M. Hill who arranged the photgraphy of the Goblet.
  • Mr. G. Macgregor, Altrincham, took most of the photographs.
  • Map source OpenStreetMap.
  • A version of this article was first published in The Glass Cone (a publication of the Glass Association).

Warrington History Society was formed in 1964 to encourage an interest in all aspects of Warrington’s history and archaeology. The Society’s next lecture “Howley, Fairfield & Latchford” by Gordon Speakman will take place at 7.30pm on Monday 21st November 2016 at Friars Green Independent Methodist Chapel in Cairo Street. For further details click here