A Bideford wedding and a teapot

In January 2023 a beautiful, early 20th-century, silver spirit teapot arrived at The Burton. Having left Bideford in the early 1920s, the teapot travelled on many adventures around the globe, finally arriving back in Bideford nearly 100 years later.

Bride, groom and family on their wedding day in Great Torrington, photograph by kind permission Clare Cunnington

This silver teapot was originally a wedding present, given to Miss Jeannette Rudd on her wedding day by the staff and employees of the Bideford Glove Works (June 2nd 1920). Jeannette Rudd was marrying Edmund Pierce at St. Michael’s Church Great Torrington and like all local high society weddings, it was reported in the North Devon Journal. The bride was beautiful, wearing a “…white crepe de chine with embroidered veil and orange blossom…”. The article lists all the splendid wedding presents, alongside the name of those who gave them.

It was the employees of L.A. Rudd Ltd of Bideford who gave the couple a silver spirit kettle to the happy couple, and the employees of L.A. Rudd Ltd of Torrington gave the couple a silver tea service to match. Both bride and groom were showered with wedding gifts, including bone china tea sets, furniture, money and bedding – everything a young couple needed to set up a home.

The history of the Rudd family

The Rudd family were Torrington born and bred. In 1891 they lived at no. 10 New Street. Both parents worked in the gloving industry. Bertie Rudd, Jeannette’s father, was a Manager at a glove factory, and Lucy Ada (his wife) was at home with their first child, Arthur. By 1901 Bertie was manufacturing silk gloves and Lucy Ada was now the glove manufacturer and employer.

By the time Jeannette was married, her mother had two glove-making factories in Bideford and Torrington and was supporting her family on her own. Jeanette was no stranger to travel from a very early age as she was born in New York. Bertie and Lucy had travelled there to explore starting up a glove factory, but it was not to be, and they came home. Jeannette was a pupil of Miss Doidge of Torrington until she passed the Preparatory Division of the Trinity College examinations at Edgehill College, Bideford. She later went on to train in London as a Physical Education teacher.

The Rudd Children (left) and Jeannette Rudd as a child, photographs by
kind permission of Great Torrington Museum
The Rudd Children (left) and Jeannette Rudd as a child, photographs by kind permission of Great Torrington Museum

Women in business

Lucy A Rudd, photograph by kind
permission of Great Torrington Museum

L.A. Rudd Bideford Ltd and L.A. Rudd Ltd were owned and run by Lucy Ada Rudd, Jeannette’s mother. During the early 1900s, there were numerous glove manufacturers in Bideford, including Mr J. Jacksons’ glove factory (1908), W.E. Gillards, which made leather and then fabric gloves on The Strand, and F.A. Sudbury’s on Silver Street, which was sold in 1937.

Though it is not unusual for women of this period to be business owners, Lucy Rudd owned two successful glove-making enterprises.

The teapot’s journey back to Bideford

After their wedding, the couple moved to Yorkshire – where Edmund had grown up – taking their teapot with them, and they started a garage/mechanical business. In 1927 the opportunity arose for Edmund and his brother-in-law to move to Kenya and set up a farm. After the pair had bought some land, Jeannette and her sister Kathleen sailed to Kenya to join them, accompanied by their father-in-law, Dr Bedford Pierce.

By 1931, after a lot of hard work, they established a farm and homestead and the kettle was finally sent for – to join them in their new home. Jeannette and Edmund settled in Thomson’s Falls and were pioneers of pyrethrum growing, the flowers of which were used as a pesticide. Jeannette returned to the UK in 1964 bringing the teapot with her. In 1988, almost ten years after Jeannette’s death, her granddaughter Claire took the kettle with her to Australia – where she now lives.

The family felt that the teapot should return home to where its journey began. It travelled over 10,000 miles to England, returning to Bideford earlier this year.


Author: Nicole Hickin

Minature glove including items to mend gloves Photographs by kind permission of Claire Cunnington.
Miniature glove including items to mend gloves Photograph by kind permission of Clare Cunnington
Wedding favours Photographs by kind permission of Claire Cunnington.
Wedding favours Photograph by kind permission of Clare Cunnington
Early 20th century, silver spirit teapot
Clare Cunnington and her husband, dropping off the
spirit teapot at the Burton in January 2023