Griffin Tazza

1863, artificial stone, by Austin and Seeley

If you go into the park at the Chester Terrace entrance and cross over the English gardens towards Avenue Gardens you will see the magnificent Griffin Tazza, 1863, by Austin and Seeley. Tazza meaning large ‘vase’, this is the original constructed in composition stone. 1828 Felix Austin started making artificial stone. His works were in New Road, Fitzroy Square, more or less opposite Holy Trinity Church. He also had premises with John Seeley at 24 Church Street, Rotherhithe. From 1840 he partnered with Seeley to produce artificial garden ornaments.

The mix is Portland cement, broken stone, pounded marble and coarse sand. The moulds were bought from a Mr Powell who had tried to rival Eleanor Coade with a manufactory at Bow, but he went out of business. The 1841 first catalogue states, ‘the stone is of a light tint, requires no painting or colouring, will not sustain injury from the severest winter, and being impervious to wet, is particularly applicable to all kinds of water works. Its superiority is now so thoroughly established that the most eminent architects and scientific gentlemen have expressed, in their highest terms, their approbation of its durability, and close resemblance to the real stone.’ Supported by Queen Victoria, the firm continued until at least 1872.

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