The Shugborough dinner service and its significance for Sino-British history

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Tradition has it that the Shugborough dinner service was presented to Commodore Anson (1697‐1762) by the European merchants of Canton in gratitude for his crew's part in extinguishing a fire that threatened the city in 1743, and the service has come to symbolise the ultimate triumph of this courageous and determined commodore over dithering and obstructive Chinese mandarins. This article argues that the link between the dinner service and the fire is actually a twentieth‐century invention, and that its story, as currently presented to us, distorts our understanding both of Canton in 1743 and of mid‐eighteenth‐century Sino‐British relations more generally.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
JournalJournal for Eighteenth-Century Studies
Issue number1
Early online date17 Jun 2013
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • Anson
  • Shugborough
  • Material culture
  • Porcelain
  • Country houses
  • China


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