Caroline came to Amberley some 40 years ago from Cheshire, having run a successful riding school since leaving school. The move south brought a change of occupation.

Sadly, her husband died in 1971 and with a son to bring up single-handed and having developed an interest in pottery from her mother who was both a potter and weaver, she started selling pottery at Amberley's original Post Office, newsagents and grocers.

In 1977, she was offered the chance by the local pub landlord John Sidebotham to open a craft shop located at the Black Horse.

So Caroline, her mother Enid and friend Barbara put their potting skills together and became Amberley Village Potters.

Caroline and Barbara at work in Amberley Pottery

Two years later they were offered the use of the front of the present premises in Church Street, a former United Reform Chapel, dating back to 1867.

At the time, it was being used as a studio-corne-art gallery, and when the two artists left, the pottery took over the rest of the building. Later, she took the opportunity to buy the building when the church authorities decided to sell it off.

Between them, they produce a wide range of items from small bowls, mustard pots or a posy vases to large bowls, floor jar or one-off platters

The business has seasons. "Early in the year, many people start thinking about buying gifts for forthcoming weddings.

Spring, on the other hand, prompts thoughts about redecorat­ing the home and changing colour schemes, and people are searching for things to complement the new look," says Caroline.

"In the summer, there are under­standably more visitors who drop in and buy something, while regu­lar customers are often looking for gifts by way of thanks to a friend or neighbour who might have fed the cat or watered their plants while they're away on holiday.

"Autumn sees people turning their thoughts to hot bowls of soup and casseroles and stews, so oven-to-table ware gains popu­larity at this time of year, while during the run-up to Christmas, we are a good source of presents," she adds.

Caroline describes her regular customers, who are anything up to 25 miles away, as the "bread and butter" of the business, and visitors to the village as ''the icing on the cake".

Although the bulk of the sales are off-the-shelf, the Village Pottery will happily undertake special commissions, but because of the labour-intensive nature of creating each piece, it generally takes around five weeks to fulfill a special order. First comes the throwing, followed by drying. The first firing, or 'the bisque', takes three days to complete, after which comes the glazing and decorating. Finally the second firing or 'glost' takes a further three days.

Summing up her feelings on living and working in Amberley, Caroline says: "Chance bought me here, and the village has provided me with a home, a business and everything I ever needed. And, what's more, I can walk to work."