ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Blue Willow Pattern

Updated on November 27, 2014
 Plate with Willow pattern
Plate with Willow pattern | Source

Blue Willow: the Classic Collectible Blue-and-White China Pattern with its own Tragic Love Story

One of the best-loved and most keenly collected china patterns of all time, the ornate Blue Willow or Willow pattern was introduced into England's potteries in the late 1700s as a copy of a Chinese illustration of an ancient Chinese legend from the days of the mandarins.

The blue-and-white pattern was made popular by Thomas Minton but was never exclusive to one company and has long been a staple pattern for many chinaware makers.

Over time, some variations crept into the pattern, just as a good story will change a bit from one storyteller to the next - which makes Blue Willow a fascinating choice for china collectors!

Today you'll find the Blue Willow pattern appearing on many different houseware and decorative products, but my fascination with the pattern began in childhood, when my grandmother's Blue Willow platter was brought triumphantly to the center of the dinner table for every holiday feast, so my heart lies with the dinnerware.

It's still possible to find lovely antique pieces for sale or at auctions, but for daily use you'll find the modern Blue Willow tableware by the likes of Royal Stafford, Churchill, or Johnson Brothers is a practical choice and faithful to the beloved 18th century china pattern.

Oval Serving Platter in Blue Willow Pattern - Blue and White Chinoiserie Platter Made in England

If you can have only one piece of the Blue Willow pattern china, you might want to consider a serving platter. It's not only one of the most useful, practical and versatile serving pieces you can have on hand for a big family feast, the traditional blue and white in a larger scale has a way of looking like a work of art whether it's on display or in use at the table.

Churchill Blue Willow Platter 14.5" x 11.5"
Churchill Blue Willow Platter 14.5" x 11.5"
Imagine this serving platter at the center of your holiday table, holding a savory entree surrounded by festive garnish... that's a treasured memory from my own childhood, those big family dinners when Grandmother's Blue Willow platter held pride of place at the table.

The Meaning of the Blue Willow Pattern

This video tells the story of the Blue Willow pattern, a tale of star-crossed lovers in the mysterious Orient, long ago, who fled across the bridge to escape an angry father, died tragically, and were turned into a pair of beautiful birds. Their love story is memorialized in this traditional china pattern.

Original music here is by Jim Pryts, who also reads the poem, author unknown. Like many of us, Jim has fond memories of eating dinner from his mother's Blue Willow china and daydreaming over the story that forever unfolds on the dishes and plates.

Churchill Blue Willow Georgian Teapot

Churchill Blue Willow Teapot 40-ounce
Churchill Blue Willow Teapot 40-ounce
If I could have only one piece of Blue Willow, besides a lovely oval serving platter, I think I would choose this elegant teapot. It's a microwave-safe, dishwasher-safe earthernware teapot well suited to our modern lives, but in the traditional Georgian style.

Blue Willow China Pitchers - Churchill or Johnson

Whether you choose a Blue Willow pattern from the Churchill potteries or from Johnson Brothers - or perhaps you'll decide mix and match a collection of antique Blue Willow pieces from different makers, as you build your collection - a creamer is one piece where you can cheerfully have multiples in different styles. We've used a creamer to serve pickles and relishes, sometimes, when there weren't enough small condiment dishes to fill out a buffet table.

Johnson Brothers Willow Blue Creamer
Johnson Brothers Willow Blue Creamer
The generously rounded shape of this classic cream jug, especially popular around the turn of the twentieth century and seen in the pieces from many of England's leading potteries, is one of my favorite pieces. The pattern is beautifully balanced with a blue figured border around the top edge and the classic Blue Willow legend scene played out on the lower curve.
Churchill Blue Willow Milk Jug 30-ounce
Churchill Blue Willow Milk Jug 30-ounce
The taller milk/cream jugs like this one make a sweet container for a small centerpiece display of wildflowers, too, if you don't take milk or cream in your tea!

Blue Willow Pattern Dishes - Place Setting or Full Dinner Service

Johnson Brothers Willow Blue 5-Piece Place Setting
Johnson Brothers Willow Blue 5-Piece Place Setting

Churchill (England) Blue Willow Dinnerware - Blue and White Chinoiserie Tableware Made in England

Established in 1795, Churchill China of England with its sister company Sampson Bridgwood began producing the Blue Willow dinnerware in 1818 in the heart of the English "potteries."

Churchill Blue Willow Plates Bowls Cups 20 Piece Dinnerware Set, Made in England
Churchill Blue Willow Plates Bowls Cups 20 Piece Dinnerware Set, Made in England
The 20-piece set includes 4 each of Dinner Plates, Side Plates, Teacups & Saucers, and Oatmeal Bowls. Microwave and dishwasher safe earthenware, made in England.

Blue Willow China by Johnson Brothers

Perhaps best known today for its award-winning Old Britain Castles pattern of the 1950s, Johnson Brothers was founded in the 1880s in England, and today operates as part of the renowned Wedgewood Group although production was moved to China in 2003.

Johnson Brothers Willow Blue 5-Piece Place Setting
Johnson Brothers Willow Blue 5-Piece Place Setting
The 5-piece Blue Willow pattern place setting by Johnson Brothers includes a Dinner Plate, Salad Plate, Cereal Bowl, Teacup and Saucer. Made in China. Dishwasher, freezer and microwave safe.

Blue Willow Salt & Pepper Shakers - Johnson Brothers

If you're looking for a small item to begin or add to a Blue Willow china collection, salt and pepper shakers are an affordable choice - and a must-have item for any collector of salt and pepper shakers, too. Choose your preferred style of shakers to go with the Johnson Bros. version of the Blue Willow pattern dinner service - the conventional smooth cellar shape or the charming figures of the romantic lovers from the legend. Keep your eye open for shakers in small pagoda shapes, not unlike like the Oriental buildings that are pictured on the china, too - they're getting hard to find as they're so much in demand by collectors.

Johnson Brothers Willow Blue Salt and Pepper Set
Johnson Brothers Willow Blue Salt and Pepper Set
This dishwasher-safe set of shakers each measures 3 3/4" tall by 2 1/8" wide, large enough that they won't need to be refilled too often but small enough to look perfectly in scale on the smallest of bistro tables.
Churchill China Blue Willow Salt And Pepper Figure Set
Churchill China Blue Willow Salt And Pepper Figure Set
So pretty! On your table or displayed in your china cabinet, the white china 5-inch-tall figures of the star-crossed lovers in the ancient Blue Willow legend are delicately decorated with touchs of the blue motif. These are glazed ironstone pieces, so not safe for the dishwasher - an occasional wipe down with a soapy damp cloth will do. In case you're wondering, the lady is the salt and her gentleman suitor is the pepper shaker.

Is there a piece of Blue Willow in your family's china cabinet?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • ColwoodWheelWorks profile image


      8 years ago

      My Mum loves Willow Pattern. I think of her whenever I see it.

    • flycatcherrr profile image


      8 years ago

      @sybil watson: Yes! That Spode pattern is also quite wonderful. And I like to mix and match a bit of Delft blue china in there too, then fill out the table (if needed, for a crowd) with pieces of my godmother's all-white vintage Wedgwood.

    • profile image

      sybil watson 

      8 years ago

      Yes! This was my grandmother's pattern, and my mom chose Spode's Blue Italian, which is also beautiful. I love mixing and matching different blue and white patterns. Lovely lens!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hostess Salad Server Set with Shakers

    • flycatcherrr profile image


      8 years ago

      @TonyPayne: That makes sense! The *true* Blue Willow is born-and-bred in the UK, even though it's Asian inspired, and real Blue Willow china is still made in Britain to this day. I think one reason why the pattern fascinates us is because we all love stories!

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      8 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Blue Willow has always been popular in the UK, it probably always is. The patterns used to fascinate me.

    • flycatcherrr profile image


      8 years ago

      @Celticep: My gran used to tell me the Blue Willow legend, too - I think it was usually to motivate me to finish my supper and reveal the whole story on the bottom of my plate. :)

    • Celticep profile image


      8 years ago from North Wales, UK

      My grandmother used to tell me the story of the willow pattern. Thanks for this lovely reminder of her

    • jolou profile image


      8 years ago

      Yes, actually my Mom had a few pieces and it was passed on to me. I have always really liked it.

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 

      8 years ago from Topeka, KS

      I've always loved the Blue Willow pattern in china. :)

    • Expat Mamasita profile image

      Expat Mamasita 

      8 years ago from Thailand

      My Gran (and my Mum and me) had this too. I always loved it and the story behind it!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very classic - I rather like this style.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)