|Sections of Medieval Floor Tile Found Mudlarking on the Thames|
In the 13th century churches, monasteries, abbeys and later royal palaces and houses of the wealthy began to use large square, decorated tiles, to cover floors and walkways. ‘Westminster’ tiles were mass produced in London from the 1260s. Penn tiles were also used, named after the Buckinghamshire village where they were made in large quantities.
The tiles are handmade using clay high in iron, hence the red colour. The clay was shaped in a wooden mould, one of over 160 designs was then stamped into the clay. The impressions were filled with fine white clay. They were left to dry. Most were glazed before they were fired.
Popular designs were geometric patterns, heraldry, animals, flowers, birds, monsters and stars. There were both individual tile designs and those which covered groups of four tiles.
At the beginning of the 14th century production in London
had largely ceased as the initial demand for floor tiles had been satisfied.
|Medieval Floor tile 13-14 Century from Museum of London|
Many medieval tiles were taken up during 19th century restoration – perhaps some ending up in the Thames, or were they part of the 1666 fire of London debris dumped into the Thames?
Victorian tile manufacturers were drawn to medieval tile designs and replicated them. Our house is Victorian and has the original tiled hall way, pictured below, which we now know owes its origins to medieval artisans.
|Victorian tiles, based on medieval designs with evidence of teenagers descent en masse|