Pair Dragons in Compartments Plates with Scottish Armorial of the Clan Irvine


We are pleased to offer this pair of Dragons in Compartments pattern plates. They were hand-painted by Chamberlain Worcester. The plates are painted with mythical beasts alternating with images of vases all within lappet-shaped panels. This wonderful pattern is also known as Bengal Tiger or Kylin in compartments. It was first made by Worcester in the 18th century. The pattern is an exotic English interpretation of Chinese export porcelains from the Kangxi period.
This outstanding pair of dishes feature an important armorial of the Scottish Clan Irvine. The dishes were beautifully hand-painted in the Chamberlains Worcester factory circa 1820. Worcester first made this pattern in the mid-18th century. It is an exquisite English interpretation of Chinese export porcelains from the Kangxi period (1661–1722). The armorial displays a swan with a crown around her neck. The swan is the royal bird of Great Britain and symbolizes harmony with the royal house of the United Kingdom. The use of this well-known symbol asserts the loyalty of the Clan Irvine to the English monarch. This image on the Irvine crest is a late 18th-century creation.

Dimensions of the dishes: 9.25″ diameter

Condition: Excellent. There is the very slightest rubbing to the lettering of the motto on one of the dishes (see image #2).

In stock

Background of This Pair of Armorial Plates

As recently as 1746, during the Jacobite uprising, the Clan Irvine fought on the side of the Scottish against the English. Encircling the swan is the motto “Sub Sole Sub Umbra Virens,” which translates to “Vigorous under both sun and shade.” This has been the motto of the Clan Irvine since the early 14th Century. The origin of this motto holds a fascinating story. William Irvine was secretary and sword-bearer to Robert the Bruce, who was King of Scots, from 1306 to 1329. When Robert was a fugitive from the English King Edward I, he concealed himself in the house of his trusted secretary, William Irvine. Throughout his life, William followed the changing fortunes of his royal master, Robert. He was with him when Robert was routed at Methven, shared his subsequent dangers, and was one of the seven men who were hidden with Robert the Bruce in a copse of holly when his pursuers passed by. When Robert the Bruce came to power again, he made William Irvine Master of the Rolls. And ten years after the battle of Bannockburn in 1314, Robert permitted William Irvine to use Robert’s private motto, “Sub Sole Sub Umbra Virens”, which is still the motto of the Irvine family.

History of the Origins of the Clan Irvine

The first lands by the name of Irvine were in Dumfriesshire in the south of Scotland. According to family tradition, the origin of the clan chief’s family is connected with the early Celtic monarchs of Scotland. Duncan Irvine settled at Bonshaw. Duncan was the brother of Crinan, who claimed descent from the High Kings of Ireland through the Abbots of Dunkeld. Crinan married a daughter of Malcolm II of Scotland, and their son Duncan Irvine became Duncan I of Scotland, who ruled from 1001 – 1040. William Irvine was a neighbor of the Clan Bruce. The Irvines supported their powerful neighbors, the Bruces, and William Irvine became the armor-bearer and secretary to King Robert the Bruce, whose reign lasted from 1306–29. Robert freed Scotland from English rule, winning the decisive Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. As a reward for twenty years of faithful service, Robert granted William the royal forest of Drum in Aberdeenshire. This then became the seat of the chief of Clan Irvine. There was already a tower at Drum built in the late 13th century as a royal hunting lodge. From this grew Drum Castle, the seat of the chief.

Background of the Chamberlains Worcester Factory

Robert Chamberlain and his son Humphrey were responsible for the decoration and gilding of the porcelains made in the original Worcester factory during the 1770s and 1780s. In 1793 they opened their own porcelain manufactory in Worcester. The painting and gilding of the Chamberlains Worcester factory met the highest standards of porcelain manufacturers during the period, and the factory enjoyed royal patronage. According to “Chamberlain Worcester Porcelain 1788-1852” by Geoffrey Godden. “A very popular Oriental-styled pattern is the one known as Dragon.” At the time, factory records show that a large Gallon Punch bowl in the Dragons in Compartments pattern sold for 220 pounds sterling.


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