Bernard Dubois

Poterie Dubois
Rue E. Hermant, 20
B 6200 Bouffioulx
Tel.:  0032 71381761
Fax:  0032 71400228
Email : bernarddubois@skynet.be
www.poteriedubois.be

 

 Bernard DUBOIS

 

THE POTTERS OF « BOUFFIOULX » AND « CHATELET »
Twenty centuries of ability and skills
“History of the Pottery DUBOIS”

Thanks to archeological excavations made between 1986 and 2002, patronized by the “Région Wallonne”, and at the instigation of the History Society Le Vieux-Châtelet, we now can assure that potters already worked in Châtelet at the Roman period. In fact, an oven has been excavated and dated from the 1st century AD by the Brussels Royal Institute of Artistic Patrimony, using carbon 14.

In 1595, the Saint-Lambert Chapter of Liège, Lord of Châtelet, Pont-de-Loup and Bouffioulx, granted its chart to the Free-Corporation of the clay potters of their lordship along the river Sambre. This chart confirmed the existence of a very ancient local activity.

In the 13th century already, four potters from Châtelet were paying a royalty to the
Saint-Lambert Chapter of Liège, being allowed in exchange to dig the special clay they used from the lordship’s forests.

During many centuries, the potters found their raw material on site, a clay of good quality resisting to high temperatures of about 1300°C and allowing the use of sea salt necessary for the vitrificaiton of the potteries. The combustible was first the wood provided by the vast forest, and later the coal, in the 18th century.

The Free-Corporation assembled the masters, apprentices or master candidates, and the servants or workers. They were ruled by two governors, one from Châtelet and one from Bouffioulx, elected each year on December 26th, Saint-Stephen’s day, saint patron of the local potters.
The Free-Corporation of potters lived on during the Revolution, which had yet decreated the suppression of corporations. However, the Free-Corporation lost its power and disappeared in 1824.

After having known its apogee in the 17th century, the stoneware, decorated or not, suffered in the 18th century from disaffection caused by the success of earthenware produced by important manufactories.

In the 19th century, Châtelet and Bouffioulx developed the industrial manufacturing of pottery food pots and pipes, production that was profit earning till 1960.
Art pottery lived a new golden age during the 20th century, under the loving fingers of the magical potters.
Three Master-Potter(1) continue today their ancestors’ work, which has never ceased to exist since the Middle Ages in these two cities. One of them, the family CRAME-DUBOIS was already present in 1595 with GEORGES CRAME, ancient signatory of the Chart of the Free-Corporation. This Master-Potter family continues its activity in an ancient farm located in the village centre of Bouffioulx.

BERNARD DUBOIS assumes with his family the 13th generation of potters from father to son and to daughter. Their workshop represents an important patrimonial interest in the region.

On one side, the artisanal activity has been maintained, and on the other side, a small museum has found its place in the heart of old buildings where the ancient coal oven is reactivated once a year, on December 26th, during the Saint-Stephen’s Night.

Another festive event honours the Master-Potters: the Pottery Feast, held for now more than thirty years, during the first weekend of July.
The Pottery DUBOIS welcomes visitors and school groups, proposing them a guided visit of the museum and the workshop in activity. Also short-term courses are organized for children and/or adults with the aim of initiating them to the magic of the clay.

The tavern La Grange aux Potiers invites visitors to taste regional specialities in a warm and quite typical atmosphere. Finally, the Pottery DUBOIS regularly offers artists the opportunity to exhibit their works.
Welcome to all!

(1) Pottery BIRON, Pottery DUBOIS and Pottery LARDINOIS

Bibliography

Websites to be discovered 

www.bouffioulx.be
www.gresdebouffioulx.be