Piers Wedgwood, of pottery family

Piers Wedgwood , who had a home in Chestnut Hill, became the fourth Baron Wedgwood at 16 on his father's death. JOE SCHILDHORN
Piers Wedgwood , who had a home in Chestnut Hill, became the fourth Baron Wedgwood at 16 on his father's death. JOE SCHILDHORN
Posted: February 03, 2014

Piers Wedgwood, 59, of Chestnut Hill, a British lord and a fifth-generation great-grandson of Josiah Wedgwood, creator of the distinctive blue-and-white pottery that embellishes tea tables and china collections, died Wednesday, Jan. 29, of cardiac failure at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Lord Wedgwood devoted his life to keeping alive regard for his family's ceramic and decorative arts. During a career spanning four decades, he traveled thousands of miles as Josiah Wedgwood & Sons' international ambassador.

In public appearances, he would guide small groups, mostly of women, through the British tradition of afternoon tea. As time allowed, he would pause his own hectic day to savor the 4 p.m. custom, he said.

"The proper tea service includes a full tea set, with cloth napkins," he told Tea Time Magazine in 2007.

"A variety of serving pieces in different heights, shapes, and materials adds visual interest to your table. Don't fret if you haven't got a matched tea set. Mixing and matching patterns and materials creates a unique and stylish setting.

"Foods include freshly brewed loose-leaf black tea served with tea sandwiches, pastries, and cakes," he advised.

As a businessman, Lord Wedgwood helped navigate the fortunes of his family's 255-year-old company. He was a veteran of two major reorganizations of the firm but remained positive and engaged as it opened major markets in India, China, and Russia.

Piers Anthony Weymouth Wedgwood was born Sept. 20, 1954, in Nakuru, Kenya, on his family's farm. He became the fourth Baron Wedgwood at 16, when his father died in 1970.

Educated in England at Marlborough College and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Lord Wedgwood was commissioned in the Royal Scots Regiment in 1973. He was deployed to Cyprus and retired with the rank of captain in 1980.

Lord Wedgwood did not view his peerage as simply a title. He was a working member of the House of Lords, with more than 25 years of service on the Defense and Heritage Parliamentary Groups. He left the House of Lords in 2001.

An active sportsman, Lord Wedgwood was a member of the Royal Automobile Club of England and the Philadelphia Club.

His passion, though, was Wedgwood. He started out in the business in his teens, cleaning the pottery kilns and learning production methods at the home of Wedgwood in Barlaston, Staffordshire. It was soon clear, however, that his charm, speaking ability, and resemblance to his ancestor Josiah made him the ideal spokesman for Wedgwood.

In 2009, Lord Wedgwood received an honorary doctorate from the faculty of art and design at Staffordshire University for his services to the preservation and promotion of North Staffordshire's cultural heritage in the art and industry of English pottery.

For many years, Lord Wedgwood was closely identified with Wedgwood collections in British museums and in America. One of them was the Buten Wedgwood Collection, formerly housed in the Buten family mansion in Merion but now in a museum in Birmingham, Ala.

Lord Wedgwood helped raise money for charity. A pet project was the Lord Wedgwood Charity, which generates money to supply high school sports programs in Birmingham with defibrillators for use in case of cardiac arrest. He proposed the project in 2000 after suffering a heart attack on a golf course in Alabama.

He also donated rare Wedgwood pieces to help raise money for other groups, such as the Philadelphia branch of the English-speaking Union of the United States in 2010.

Lord Wedgwood met his future wife, the former Mary Regina Quinn of the Fairmount section of Philadelphia, when he was presenting Wedgwood at Marshall Field & Co. in Chicago. At the time, the daughter of Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Edward Thomas Quinn ran the store's public relations.

The "old English lord" she expected to meet turned out to be a dashing 26-year-old. They married in 1985 and maintained homes in Chestnut Hill, in London, and at the Jersey Shore.

Surviving, in addition to his wife, are a daughter, Alexandra Mary Kavanaugh Wedgwood, and two sisters. Funeral arrangements were incomplete.


bcook@phillynews.com

610-313-8102

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