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Covent Garden

The Covent Garden Fountain was made by Somerset stone carver Philip Thomason for Westminster City Council around 2000; the material is a recreation by Thomason of the Coade stone formula (Fig 185). The fountain features a massive indented shell and is sited beside St Paul’s Church; access from Covent Garden or the churchyard.

The grey block terracotta facade of the London Coliseum (1902-4, Frank Matcham), St Martin’s Lane, was the largest contract ever undertaken by the Hathern Station Brick and Terra Cotta Company. Interior decoration restored by RHWL Architects during major refurbishments of 2000-4 included the tiled floor of the foyer and terracotta ornament in the auditorium.


On Bremner Road, immediately south-west of the Albert Hall, is Queen Alexandra’s House (1884, architect Caspar Purdon Clarke), built as a hostel for women studying at the schools of music, art and science in South Kensington. It has retained much of its original high quality interior decoration, as well as Doulton terracotta reliefs of Art and Music, modelled by the Burslem artist Richard Ledward (1857-90), in the double height porch. The entrance hall, altered but still impressive, is lined with ornate, mainly grey-green faience tiles designed by Doulton artists and supplied at cost price by Henry Doulton, who undoubtedly saw the publicity value in his work at the hostel. In the drawing room-cum-library is a massive faience chimneypiece given by Doulton, who also donated the twelve pictorial tile panels in dining room. These comprise two views of Lambeth and ten allegorical panels depicting art and music; all were designed by John Eyre and painted by Esther Lewis, Walter Nunn and John McLennan.[1]

Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone of the Albert Hall (properly the Royal Albert Hall of Arts and Sciences), Kensington Gore, in 1867, while the Albert Memorial (1863-72) was still under construction just to the north. The Hall’s huge elliptical brick drum had been planned by Captain Francis Fowke, architect of the South Kensington Museum (now V&A, see Kensington & Chelsea), but following his death in 1865 the project was taken on by Henry Scott, who was responsible for the Hall’s exterior, although Reuben Townroe designed the decorative features of its buff terracotta cladding, which came from Gibbs & Canning of Tamworth. This was the first time such a substantial terracotta contract had been awarded to a single supplier, rather than to a number of smaller firms; however, late delivery of the terracotta caused delays in construction.[2]Townroe undertook much of the modelling, which was supervised by Scott’s assistant Gilbert Redgrave; Scott and Redgrave ensured that the blocks were not smoothed over, the result being a rough-textured finish which was intended to add spontaneity to the rigorous repetition of sculptural detail. This effect is now impossible to see as the fireskin and much of the Hall’s decorative detailing were sandblasted away in 1971.[3]

Encircling the outside of the Hall, high up above the balustraded balcony, is an 800’ long terracotta mosaic frieze depicting artistic and scientific activities; above it runs an inscription in moulded terracotta capitals (Fig 186). The format of the frieze was decided by Scott in conjunction with the artists Henry Stacy Marks (1829-98), Frederick Richard Pickersgill (1820-1900) and William Frederick Yeames (1835-1918), the latter pair being joined by Edward Poynter (1836-1919), Edward Armitage (1817-96), John Callcott Horsley (1817-1903) and the sculptor Henry Hugh Armstead (1828-1905) in completing detailed designs of the various sections. The chocolate and ochre tesserae were produced at the adjacent and recently established Minton Hollins workshop, which supervised the execution of the panels by the Ladies Mosaic Class of the National Art Training School.[4] During the 1970s part of the terracotta balcony was found to be damaged, probably by water ingress causing cracking, and some concrete substitute sections were introduced. These were replaced with terracotta blocks supplied by Hathernware in the early 1990s, at the start of the Hall’s long-term restoration programme, which was completed in 2004. Above the new south porch, opened in 2003, is a 60,000 piece glass mosaic designed by Shelagh Wakely and made by Trevor Caley; its abstract design was inspired by the Hall’s terracotta frieze.

St Paul’s Church (1840-3), Wilton Place, was the first parish church in London to put into practice the teachings of the Oxford Movement. The influence of tractarianism is reflected not in its architecture but in its anglo-catholic interior decoration, which dates from the latter part of the nineteenth century. Running round the nave is an outstanding series of eighteen large tile panels depicting scenes from the life of Christ, executed mainly in sepia and shades of green and purple; at the west end of the nave are two additional sets of three lancet-shaped panels showing St Peter and St Paul (Fig 187). These were all painted during 1869-79 by the stained glass designer and fresco artist Daniel Bell (b1840), younger brother of Alfred Bell (1832-95) of the stained glass makers Clayton & Bell.[5] Daniel initially worked for his brother’s firm, but began the St Paul’s panels when in partnership with Richard Almond (b1841) as stained glass artists and church decorators Bell & Almond.[6] Daniel Bell worked independently from 1875 and appears to have concentrated on frescoes towards the end of his career, his latest known work being the frescoes begun in 1896 at St Matthias, Stoke Newington, Hackney.[7] These paintings were lost - the fate of much of Bell’s work - when the church interior was severely damaged during the Second World War. The St Paul’s panels appear to be his only ceramic works.[8]

Maida Vale

The Chippenham, a late Victorian pub at 207 Shirland Road, retains some of its original full height interior wall tiling; the elaborate entrance of the turn-of-the-century Warrington Hotel, 93 Warrington Crescent, mostly comprises standard tile and faience elements supplied by Craven Dunnill.


Just inside the entrance of the Waitrose store at 98-101 Marylebone High Street is a tile mural (1999) by Reptile Tile & Ceramics showing local people and scenes including Lord’s Cricket Ground. On the rear facade of the store, in Cramer Street, is a five-panel ceramic installation designed and executed by the artist Robert Dawson entitled Tyburn, Lethewards has sunk (2000), which was part of Westminster City Council’s Hidden Rivers public art project.

The huge Great Central Hotel (1897-9, now Landmark Hotel), 222 Marylebone Road, has much intricate Doulton terracotta ornament on its facade; the figures of Night and Day in the spandrels of the main entrance were modelled by John Broad.

The R. C. Church of Our Lady of the Rosary (1959-63), 211 Old Marylebone Road, is the third of the trio of churches designed by the architect H. S. Goodhart-Rendel in which the chancel decoration includes Carter’s tiling designed by Joseph Ledger and painted by Phyllis Butler. Rather than a reredos, as at Rochester (Kent) and Hounslow in 1955, here Ledger designed fifteen individual hand-painted tile panels depicting the Mysteries of the Rosary (1966) which are mounted between the narrow lancets of the east wall (Fig 188). Carter’s also supplied geometric-patterned blue and grey glazed  tiling for the chancel dado.[9]

In the conservatory (no public access) of 33 Weymouth Street (now a dental practice, 1894-5, architects H. D. Davis & B. Emanuel) is an extensive trompe l’oeil slip-trailed tile mural of a landscape; it is signed Marcel Logeat, Paris and dated 1905. There are also two smaller hand-painted murals by the same firm, who were probably tile decorators (Fig 189).


The Handel House Museum at 25 Brook Street was the home of the composer George Frideric Handel during 1723-59. The Museum is entered from Lancashire Court, a narrow alleyway lined with a long ceramic mural by the London sculptor and tile designer Michael Czerwinski (assisted by Ray Howell) entitled London (2001); it shows hand-painted and relief scenes of the ancient and modern city.

Beside the altar on the east wall of Christ Church (generally no public access), Down Street, is a First World War memorial by William Glasby. The panel, one of Glasby’s most impressive and earliest works in opus sectile, dates from about 1920 and depicts Christ.

The former nonconformist King’s Weigh House Chapel (now Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral), Duke Street, was put up in 1889-93 by the architect Alfred Waterhouse with a wealth of buff Burmantofts terracotta dressings; the firm’s faience is used inside as cladding on four columns. Alterations of 1903 by J. J. Burnet included the addition, at the east end, of a Burmantofts terracotta screen bearing figurative decoration, but a new screen was installed around 1980.

The art deco apartment block Carrington House (1936, architects W. & E. Hunt), Hertford Street, has strings of cream and mottled grey-green faience cladding which swoop beneath its rows of window boxes. A carriage entrance leads into the courtyard, where more faience ornament takes the form of large mouldings and great zigzags. These ceramics are unusual in colour and form, and possibly came from the Delft factory De Porceleyne Fles, which was well known for its architectural faience. The architects, William Hunt (1854-1943) and his son Edward Hunt (1877-1963), who was articled to his father and became a partner in 1905, designed several town houses and business premises in Mayfair. William Hunt was the architect of Tooting Library (1902, Wandsworth), which has an elaborate Doulton terracotta porch, but Edward Hunt was probably responsible for Carrington House.

The extensive pedestrian subways at Hyde Park Corner are lined with tiling completed in 1995 by the Hackney-based Free Form Arts Trust; the project’s art director was Alan Rossiter. The historical images, which cover 900 square metres of subway wall, were painted on-glaze by a team of six artists using brushwork, spraying, stencilling and sponging.[10]

The tailors Messrs Cooling Lawrence & Sons, specialists in military and naval uniforms, had new premises built at 47 Maddox Street (now Browns Restaurant) in 1892. Their architect was Walter Williams (1863-1954), who produced a shiny brown Burmantofts glazed faience facade with good detailing including dragon finials. The shop is said to have the earliest complete faience facade in London.[11] Burmantofts produced large blocks and slabs of glazed and unglazed faience from the early 1880s, but this was intended for internal work, as the material was not resistant to frost damage; coloured faience made frequent appearances in London’s clubs and restaurants during the 1880s, for instance lining the walls of the buffet and grill rooms at the First Avenue Hotel (1883), Holborn. It was Doulton’s development of frost and pollution-resistant Carraraware in 1888 which allowed faience to emerge into the daylight, an early example of its use - and the most extensive ever - being the polychrome Carraraware-clad Birkbeck Bank (1895-6, demolished 1965) near the north end of London’s Chancery Lane. The Cooling Lawrence shop, opened four years before the bank, was an early and daring external use of Burmantofts faience. By the turn of the century Burmantofts had improved the glazing and body of their coloured faience so that it could be used safely externally; however, it was 1908 before the firm developed Marmo, their response to Doulton’s Carraraware.

Redevelopment of Mount Street, part of the Duke of Westminster’s Grosvenor Estate, began in the early 1880s and continued until 1897, the result - especially on the south side of the street - being a high-spirited concentration of terracotta ornament which even the Duke, a keen proponent of the material, found overdone in parts. The first of the mostly shops-cum-flats went up at the east end in 1880-2, but the ceramic story begins with numbers 104-8 (1886, George & Peto), entirely faced in buff block terracotta from Doulton’s.[12] Its even colour contrasts with that of 109-11, where George & Peto obtained the richer buff to pink terracotta from J. C. Edwards of Ruabon.[13] The section was completed by the same architects with number 113 (1891-2). James Trant Smith designed 115-6, a smaller, single block with a grey terracotta finish, and the outrageously intricate numbers 117-21, all built in 1886-7. Behind the blousy buff terracotta columns on the facade of butcher’s Allen & Co, 117 Mount Street, the contemporary interior is still complete with extensive tilework and original fittings, although no pictorial panels. The most easterly of the street’s terracotta structures are numbers 125-9 (1886-7, W. H. Powell), where Doulton’s buff terracotta is combined with ‘streaky bacon’ style banded bricks in buff and red. Last in date, largest and most heavily decorated is the range at 87-102 (1889-95, Arthur J. Bolton) at the west end, reaching round into South Audley Street, with mostly buff terracotta supplied by Edwards of Ruabon. Apart from the visual impact of architectural ceramics in such profusion, there is much interest in Mount Street’s detailing, from the shades of terracotta produced by different manufacturers to subtle variations in depths of courses and widths of terracotta blocks.

The 11’ high Queen of Time clock above the main entrance of Selfridges (1908-28), 400 Oxford Street, was planned in 1926 and completed in 1931. The sculptor was Gilbert Bayes, who originally intended the entire group to be made from Doulton’s polychrome stoneware, but eventually it was cast in bronze, overlaid with gold and inset with stoneware panels.

The tall corner block, notable for its bright green and white striped Doulton Carraraware gable, which occupies 137 Piccadilly and 148-50 Old Park Lane is a former car showroom, Gloucester House (1905, T. E. Collcutt & S. Hamp); its ground floor now houses the Hard Rock Café.

Thomas Goode founded his china retailing business in 1827 and came to South Audley Street in 1845, when Minton’s were already the firm’s major supplier. Goode’s son, the designer William James Goode (1831-92), took over the running of the business in 1867 and from 1875 began to expand the Thomas Goode & Co premises at 17-22 South Audley Street, retaining Ernest George as his architect. The new shop went up in three sections: central in 1875-6, south (which extends into South Street) in 1876-7 and north in 1890-1. The South Street block is a five-bay single-storey gallery with a blind arcade defined by six delicately painted Japanese-style pictorial panels, each of twenty-seven tiles. The shop retains most of its lavish Victorian interior decoration including Minton tiles in twelve different designs displayed on the six piers of an open arcade.

The gigantic former Debenham & Freebody’s (1907-8) at 27-37 Wigmore Street is entirely faced in Doulton’s Carraraware, which was also used on the facade of the Debenham House (see Kensington & Chelsea), built in 1904-7 for the store’s chairman Sir Ernest Debenham.


The Porchester Centre, Porchester Road, is a complex consisting of a public baths (1923-5, architect Herbert Shepherd) and Turkish baths and library (1927-9, Shepherd & Thomerson), all still in use and lined throughout the baths areas with pale brown glazed faience by the Hathern Station Brick and Terra Cotta Company.[14]


The pilasters of Harvie & Hudson, 97 Jermyn Street, are decorated with Pugin-designed polychrome block-printed tiles made by Minton’s around 1850 using the technique invented by Alfred Reynolds (1818-91), who was associated with the firm’s tile department from 1848.[15]

The former Albemarle Hotel (1887-8, George & Peto, now Albemarle House), 60-1 Piccadilly, is constructed from pinkish-brown block terracotta supplied by Doulton’s. The facade includes a series of large relief portrait medallions similar to those shown in the firm’s catalogue and designed by George Tinworth; they were based on coins in the collection of the British Museum.

The Criterion, Piccadilly Circus, was designed by Thomas Verity and built in 1874; it was partially reconstructed by Verity in 1884, since when the subterranean auditorium has remained largely unchanged. The walls around the stairs leading down to the theatre are extensively tiled in a sumptuous scheme which alternates mirrors and pictorial panels by W. B. Simpson & Sons, with figure designs by A. W. Coke and possibly W. S. Coleman. Below the Simpson tiling is a lower dado of plainer Maw & Co relief-moulded tiles. Restoration in 1992 extended the decoration into new bar areas using original Simpson’s tiles and material with matching images.[16]

Inside the St James’s Tavern (1896, W. M. Brutton), Shaftesbury Avenue (near Piccadilly Circus at Denman Street), are six Doulton pictorial tile panels. Four, measuring about 6’ by 3’, show Shakespearian scenes with Falstaff, Prince Hal, Bardolph and Touchstone, and may have been painted by John McLennan; the two smaller panels depict hops and grape vines.

The restaurant now known as Destino, 25 Swallow Street, opened in 1921 and was the first in London to serve Spanish food. The King of Spain, a friend of the original owners, donated the profusion of Seville tiles which can be seen in the main restaurant, where there are several splendid pictorial panels and a fountain, and in the private room, which has a cuenca tile dado.

St John’s Wood

The salmon-pink terracotta of the Pavilion (1889-90, Thomas Verity) on the west side of Lord’s Cricket Ground, St John’s Wood Road, was supplied by J. C. Edwards of Ruabon, who mentioned it in their 1903 catalogue. One curious feature of the facade is the series of terracotta corbel-head portraits of cricketers which runs above the balcony.


The extensive wall tiling inside the front and back bars of the Dog & Duck PH (1897, architect Francis Chambers), 18 Bateman Street, includes repeats of a single tile showing the eponymous dog grasping a duck.

All Saints Church, Margaret Street, the ‘model church’ of the Ecclesiological Society, was designed by William Butterfield and erected in 1850-2, although decoration of the interior continued piecemeal up to its consecration in 1859 and for many years afterwards (Fig 190). A Butterfield-designed Minton tile pavement runs throughout, with mainly geometric tiles in a pattern which increases in intensity towards the chancel. Frescoes were originally planned for the lower parts of the nave walls, but tile murals were installed instead from the 1870s, Butterfield by then preferring a more permanent medium. The north wall panels of 1874-5, a memorial to the first vicar of All Saints, were designed by Butterfield, commissioned from Alexander Gibbs and fired in his Bloomsbury Street kilns, although the figure painting was executed by his younger brother Isaac Alexander Gibbs (1849-89), with background work by the French artist Alexander Gravier. The five large panels carry images of the Adoration of the Magi with characters from the old and new testaments. Fixing was carried out by Henry Poole & Sons of Millbank, who also provided the north and south aisle tile dados in 1876. The tile mural beneath the west window shows Moses and the Brazen Serpent (1888) and was probably designed by Butterfield. It was executed by the London stained glass firm Bell & Beckham, who also carried out the final tile mural on the adjacent south wall; this shows the Ascension (1890-1) and is known to have been designed by Butterfield.[17]

Paul Thompson, the architect’s biographer, feels the All Saints tile panels are not easy to assess, and is unconvinced of their quality; certainly they came towards the end of Butterfield’s architectural career, during which he rarely used painted decoration.[18] His interest in permanent mural decoration began in 1867 with the use of mosaics, and the tile panels of All Saints, Margaret Street and St Augustine (1889-91), South Kensington, represent its culmination. However, despite their visual importance in this most significant of churches, the All Saints tile mural sequence now receives minimal critical comment; for instance, the mural historian Clare Willsdon mentions only William Dyce’s original fresco painting (1854-5) in the chancel, ignoring the tile murals altogether.[19] The relationship of ceramic decoration in Victorian churches with ‘trade’ in the form of the ecclesiastical decorating companies perhaps induces critical uncertainty; in addition, the mass industrial connotations of tile manufacture and the necessarily collaborative processes of ceramics design, production and installation are quite different from the working patterns of ‘fine’ artists. In this context, the rediscovery of the St Augustine panels should encourage the consideration of ceramic murals as serious artworks.

Much Doulton terracotta is in evidence inside and on the outside of the French Protestant Church (1891-3, Aston Webb), near the north-west corner of Soho Square. Most interesting is the interior, with buff and brown terracotta appearing in bands on the walls; the pulpit and font are also of terracotta.


Lloyds Bank, 222-5 Strand (at the east end), was built in 1882-3 (architects Wimble & Cuthbert) as the restaurant of the Royal Courts of Justice, opposite which it stands; an earlier occupant of the site was the Palsgrave Head Tavern, frequently visited by the dramatist Ben Jonson. The exotic entrance lobby is completely lined in Doultonware and unglazed Silicon ware mosaic, its elaborate modelling including water bowls, flying fish and crazily twisted columns (Fig 191). In the original restaurant, now the banking hall, are Doulton pictorial tile panels by John McLennan showing characters from Ben Johnson plays, Frederick Palsgrave (once King of Bohemia), and chrysanthemums as grown in nearby Temple Gardens in the early 1880s.[20]

Just west on the corner of the Strand and Arundel Street is Abbey Life House (1963-5) whose entrance is marked by a large ceramic relief (1963) by the sculptor Geoffrey Earle Wickham; it is made up from irregular sections and shows the area as it was in the seventeenth century.

Further west on the Strand beyond Somerset House is the frontage of the 1903-4 extension to the Savoy Hotel, known as Savoy Court (architect T. E. Collcutt) and clad in cream Carraraware; it was an important commission for Doulton’s which also included much sanitaryware. The arts and crafts Coal Hole PH at 89 Strand is part of the complex; inside is a grape-themed terracotta fire surround.

Towards the west end of the Strand is the Charing Cross Hotel (1863-5, E. M. Barry), at the terminus of the South Eastern Railway. Blanchard’s, who supplied the terracotta used in the Horticultural Society’s successful 1861 garden at South Kensington, provided the hotel’s elaborate terracotta detailing, all of which was non-structural. This early use of the material for a commercial building is comparable with its less extensive appearance on Plymouth’s Duke of York Hotel and Scarborough’s Grand Hotel, both of 1863-7. Although terracotta had been used for a complete building, the first of the ‘pot churches’ at Lever Bridge, Bolton, as early as 1844-5, its large-scale use at Charing Cross, as commercial architecture in the capital, was undoubtedly more influential.[21]


The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (1861-75, George Gilbert Scott) complex on King Charles Street comprises four sections, each with its own courtyard, all arranged around a central quadrangle. The India Office (for which Matthew Digby Wyatt provided the interior decoration) and Foreign Office were open by 1868, with the Home and Colonial Offices being completed in 1875. Scott designed the Foreign Office’s lavish interiors with the intention of impressing visitors from abroad. His work included immense corridors with geometric tiled floors and the Locarno Conference Room, whose coffered ceiling is supported by brackets bearing majolica roundels depicting emblems of twenty countries. In the India Office, the loggia and one balcony of Matthew Digby Wyatt’s Durbar Court (1866) have polychrome majolica friezes and coved tiled ceilings in Maw’s new majolica glazes. The Maw’s geometric tiled pavements were executed by W. B. Simpson & Sons.[22]

 The former smoking room of the old Whitehall Club (1864-6, now an annexe of the House of Commons Library), 47 Parliament Street, is lined with original block-printed Minton wall tiling; its three main designs were shown in the Mintons China Works catalogue of around 1885.

The opulent club room interiors of the National Liberal Club (1884-7, Alfred Waterhouse), Whitehall Place, are lined throughout with Burmantofts faience, which also makes up the ceiling of the smoking room. This was Waterhouse’s first major use of the newly-available glazed faience, and his enjoyment at exploring its possibilities is evident; his overall scheme provided different combinations of colours - from brown through green and gold to ivory and grey - and finishes for every room, including the seven lower ground floor billiard rooms.[23] Also notable are a first floor billiard room with a huge faience fire surround, and the faience-clad oven of the grill room.[24] The David Lloyd George Room’s faience was restored in 2001 by the Conservation Unit of the University of Lincoln.[25]


The facade is all that remains of the original Orchard House (1898), 14 Great Smith Street, but this retains its Doulton buff terracotta ornament including good lettering and peacocks modelled by W. J. Neatby.

The medieval floor tiles known as the ‘Westminster’ type were first recognised at Westminster Abbey, Parliament Square, where there are still several extant groups, for instance in the Pyx Chamber, St Faith’s Chapel, St Benedict’s Chapel and most notably the Muniment Room, which has one of the only two major in situ medieval tile pavements in London; the other is in the chapel of Lambeth Palace. At least some of the ‘Westminster’ tiles were made in London at a kiln in what is now Farringdon Road, and they have a wide distribution; they were often laid in unusually decorative patterns but their technical quality is generally poor. The Muniment Room floor dates from the late 1250s or early 1260s, just before the ‘Westminster’ tile industry went into decline, towards the end of the thirteenth century. The most technically advanced medieval tiles at the Abbey are in the Chapter House (1246-50), whose Chertsey-Westminster pavement probably dates from the early to mid 1250s and includes a rich array of human, architectural, animal and floral motifs. The Chapter House was used for storing official records from the late sixteenth century and the floor was boarded over, thus preserving the tiles, which could be seen through two trapdoors but aroused little interest until the architect Lewis N. Cottingham investigated them in the early 1840s in connection with the restoration of the Temple Church (see City of London) and made tracings of the designs. George Gilbert Scott restored the Chapter House in 1866-73 and relaid the pavement, incorporating some replacement tiles made by Minton using Cottingham’s tracings; Minton’s also made the reproductions of ‘Westminster’ tiles which form part of the pavement of the entrance way to the Chapter House.[26]

On Parliament Square just north of the Abbey is St Margaret’s Church, with an ornate chancel pavement of highly glazed encaustic tiles given in 1878 by Colin Minton Campbell (1827-85), who became MP for North Staffordshire in 1874 and founded the Campbell Brick & Tile Company in the following year. The Builder was disdainful: ‘It is surprising that people cannot apparently be happy or devotional in church now without the glitter of glazed tiles, which form really a very commonplace and tawdry source of effect’.[27]27 On the wall at the east end of the south aisle are two large Powell’s opus sectile memorial panels of 1893 and 1894, each in three sections; the cartoons were by George Parlby.[28]

The Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament), between Parliament Square and the river Thames, was rebuilt after a fire in 1834 destroyed most of the old Palace; building began in 1840 and was substantially complete by 1870.[29] The architectural competition for the New Palace was won by Charles Barry with assistance from A. W. N. Pugin, who provided him with sets of fine drawings and was eventually to be responsible for all the internal detailing including tile designs; Barry and Pugin visited the Minton factory in Stoke together on the 2nd October 1845.[30] The first encaustic floor tiles, designed by Pugin and made by Minton’s, were laid in the Peers Lobby in early 1847; over the years, further tiling was installed, resulting in the most complex series of elaborate secular pavements in the world.[31] Their creation acted as an important encouragement to the nascent British encaustic tile industry, and was the inspiration for the introduction of encaustic pavements into prestigious civic and public buildings around the world.

Tiles seen on the normal public route through the Palace, the Line of Route, are described here first, followed by those in non-public areas. Beginning at the Victoria Tower, the Royal Staircase - whose tiled risers are normally hidden by carpet - leads to the Norman Porch; the vault mosaics and other decoration in these areas date from the 1860s. In the Queen’s Robing Room is a fireplace by E. M. Barry with block-printed Minton tiles depicting the fleur-de-lys, a portcullis and the VR monogram. The fine encaustic tiled floor of the Royal Gallery was designed by Pugin around 1851; the arrangement features large blocks of patterned tiles delineated by broad strips of letter tiles bearing Latin inscriptions almost a foot high. Although Minton’s own employees probably installed the early floors, by July 1851 tile pavements throughout the Palace were being laid by the London Marble & Stone Working Company of Esher.[32] Next comes the Prince’s Chamber, where the Pugin-designed fireplace, with foot-square red and blue encaustic tiles bearing the three lions motif and the royal monogram, was installed in 1847 with the Peers Lobby pavement, which lies beyond the House of Lords; its tiles, which measure about 12” square, run parallel with the walls.

The Peers Corridor, with replacement tiling from the 1970s, connects the Peers Lobby with the octagonal Central Lobby and its fabulous Pugin-Minton encaustic pavement, whose arrangement is based on an eight-pointed star and includes roundels of national emblems (Fig 192). After the Commons Corridor, where the tiling was renewed in the 1970s, come the Commons Lobby, the House of Commons and then St Stephen’s Hall, with a long encaustic pavement including many armorial and letter tiles. This was completed, along with the Central Lobby, by early 1852. In the most heavily used areas of the Palace the floor tiling has become worn, and a programme of recording, protection and restoration is now in place.[33]

Minton tiles in other parts of the Palace include those of the Lower Waiting Hall (early 1850s) and the Speaker’s House (1858). Tiling for the floor of the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft (Crypt Chapel) was supplied by the contractor William Field during restoration by E. M. Barry in the 1860s.[34] Replacement encaustic tiles were made for the Chapel by Carter’s of Poole soon after the Second World War.[35] The early Minton block-printed wall tiles of the Strangers’ Smoking Room, now the Terrace Cafeteria, were restored during 1994-6 by Jackfield Conservation Studio and the Decorative Tile Works.[36]

Original Minton chancel encaustic floor tiling at St Stephen’s Church (1847-50), Rochester Row, includes nine-tile groups in a mixture of red, blue and buff showing symbols of the Evangelists and a pelican in her piety.

A mostly geometric tile pavement by Maw’s forms but a small part of the conclusively polychromatic interior of St-James-the-Less Church (1859-61, G. E. Street), Vauxhall Bridge Road; the Last Judgement mosaic above the chancel arch is by G. F. Watts, who carried out the design as a fresco in 1861 but replaced it with mosaic in the 1880s following its deterioration.[37]

There is Doulton terracotta latticework tracery in the sanctuary dome’s semicircular windows at Westminster R. C. Cathedral (1895-1903, J. F. Bentley), Ashley Place, off Victoria Street. As well as the Cathedral’s extensive mosaics, there is early twentieth century opus sectile work in the Chapel of St Gregory and St Augustine, where the panels were by J. R. Clayton of Clayton and Bell, and in the Chapel of the Holy Souls, where its design was by the artist William Christian Symons (1845-1911), a friend of the architect.[38]

At the west end of Victoria Street is Victoria Station; on the wall of the narrow central passageway connecting the trainshed with the forecourt are two large unsigned tile maps of the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway network, one showing the company’s suburban lines, the other their entire system and a coat of arms within an elaborate cartouche; they probably date from 1906-8 when the Brighton (western) side of the trainshed was rebuilt.


1.^         Louise Irvine and Deborah Lambert, '"For present comfort and for future good" - Queen Alexandra's House, Kensington', Decorative Arts Society Journal, 21 (1997), pp27-34.
2.^         Alan Swale, Architectural terracotta - a critical appraisal of its development and deployment, 1998, MA dissertation, History of Ceramics, University of Staffordshire.
3.^         Michael Stratton, The Terracotta Revival (Victor Gollancz, London, 1993), pp62-3,236.
4.^         John Physick, Albertopolis:The Estate of the 1851 Commissioners, in The Albert Memorial, ed Chris Brooks (Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2000), pp308-38.
5.^         Katy Carter, St Paul's Church, Knightsbridge, 1843-1993: The first 150 years (St Paul's Church, Knightsbridge, London, 1993).
6.^         Joyce Little, Angela Goedicke and Margaret Washbourn, eds, Stained Glass Marks & Monograms (NADFAS, London, 2002).
7.^         T. Francis Bumpus, London Churches Ancient and Modern (T. Werner Laurie, London, 1908), p223.
8.^         Lynn F. Pearson, 'The TACS Gazetteer Project: Tile discoveries in London and Newcastle upon Tyne', Glazed Expressions, (1998) 36, pp1-2.
9.^         Jennifer Hawkins, Poole Potteries (Barrie & Jenkins, London, 1980).
10.^       Hannah Wingrave, 'Art of Cladding', Studio Pottery, (2000) 39, pp21-4.
11.^       Simon Bradley and Nikolaus Pevsner, London 6: Westminster Buildings of England (Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2003), p539.
12.^       Paul Atterbury and Louise Irvine, The Doulton Story (Royal Doulton Tableware, Stoke on Trent, 1979).
13.^       J. C. Edwards, Ruabon: Catalogue, Ruabon (1903).
14.^       Modern Practice in Architectural Terra Cotta, (Hathern Station Brick & Terra Cotta Co Ltd, Loughborough, 1930).
15.^       John S. Reynolds, 'Alfred Reynolds and the Block Process', TACS Journal, 5 (1994), pp20-26.
16.^       John Earl and Michael Sell, eds., The Theatres Trust Guide to British Theatres, 1750-1950: A Gazetteer (A. & C. Black, London, 2000).
17.^       Michael Kerney, 'All Saints', Margaret Street: A Glazing History', Journal of Stained Glass, 25 (2001), pp27-52.
18.^       Paul Thompson, William Butterfield (Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1971), pp459-60.
19.^       Clare A. P. Willsdon, Mural Painting in Britain 1840-1940: Image and Meaning (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2000), pp213-20.
20.^       The Builder, vol 44, 2nd June 1883, p753.
21.^       Stratton, Terracotta Revival (1993), p67.
22.^       Tony Herbert and Kathryn Huggins, The Decorative Tile in Architecture and Interiors (Phaidon Press, London, 1995).
23.^       Colin Cunningham and Prudence Waterhouse, Alfred Waterhouse, 1830-1905: Biography of a Practice (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1992), pp163-4.
24.^       Julie Gillam Wood, 'Burmantofts' stories in faience: The National Liberal Club, 1 Whitehall Place, London', Glazed Expressions, (2004) 50, pp14-16.
25.^       Rachel Faulding and Susan Thomas, 'Ceramic tiles in historic buildings: examination, recording and treatment', Journal of Architectural Conservation, 6 (2000) March, pp38-55.
26.^       Ian M. Betts, Medieval 'Westminster' floor tiles (MoLAS Monograph 11) (Museum of London, London, 2002).
27.^       The Builder, vol 36, 6th and 13th July 1878, pp509, 720.
28.^       Dennis W. Hadley, James Powell & Sons: A listing of opus sectile, 1847-1973, (2001).
29.^       Alexandra Wedgwood, The New Palace of Westminster, in The Houses of Parliament, eds Christine Riding and Jacqueline Riding (Merrell, London, 2000), pp113-135.
30.^       Alexandra Wedgwood, The New Palace of Westminster, in Pugin: A Gothic Passion, eds Paul Atterbury and Clive Wainwright (Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1994), pp219-36.
31.^       Clive Wainwright, Hans van Lemmen and Michael Stratton, TACS Tour Notes: Tiles and Terracotta in London (Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society, 1981).
32.^       The Builder, vol 9, 26th July 1851, p461 and 2nd August 1851, p486.
33.^       A. T. Jardine, Encaustic pavements, conservation, protection and replacement issues: The Palace of Westminster, in Historic Floors: Their history and conservation, ed Jane Fawcett (Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, 1998), pp187-193.
34.^       Bradley and Pevsner, London 6: Westminster (2003), p229.
35.^       Hawkins, Poole Potteries (1980), p170.
36.^       Lesley Durbin, 'Conservation and restoration of Pugin tiles at the House of Commons', Context, (1997) 54, pp24-5.
37.^       The Builder, vol 19, 1861, p410 and vol 20, 15th March 1862, p187.
38.^       Peter Howell, 'John Francis Bentley: Homage for his Centenary', The Victorian, (2002) 9, pp12-15.

The Tile Gazetteer is Copyright © 2005 Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society and Lynn Pearson, Richard Dennis.