Tile style


A hundred and twenty photographs! That took some paring down. Expectation wasn’t particularly high when as we drove out to Jackfield to visit the tile museum. After all, how much is there to say about tiles?

Rather a lot as it happens. Jackfield, a small village on the banks of the River Severn is home to the Craven Dunnill Company, the only surviving purpose-built tile factory in the world. Where better to site a museum dedicated to the history of tile making? Consisting of a series of rooms, and showcasing not only their own tiles, but those of every major manufacturer, the tiles are displayed by era and show the changing tastes in both domestic and commercial settings.

The popularity of decorating with tiles was in its heyday during Victoria’s reign and designs were inspired by costume and rhyme, flora and fauna, literature, the architecture of the Romans and Greeks, and ancient Islamic ceramics.

These were some of my favourites…


Tiles were used to face the bars in Victorian pubs,


in public washrooms,


and the London tube stations like Covent Garden so magnificently recreated (and complete with authentic sounds) here in Jackfield.


The Dewhurst butchers chain provided the funding to relocate this original panel from a butcher’s shop in Yorkshire.


And then there were the floors. Back in 1983 when I moved into a Victorian townhouse, we pulled up some hideous 1970s Lino to find something very similar.


During Craven and Dunnill’s building  works  in 2000, a number of old lithograph stones used to make the transfer prints for tile decoration were unearthed.

imageBy the beginning of the twentieth Century the Victorian preference for all things ornate was waning and the demand for cleaner lines in furniture and decor grew.  Thousands of designs were deleted and plain tiles became the choice of many.

The Tile Museum was amazing and expectation very much exceeded!


4 thoughts on “Tile style

  1. Yes, as you say, probably the best times are when expectations have not been high. Such as when we went to Living Coasts recently in Torquay. People had said it’s just a load of penguins, but we found it really interesting. Perhaps now ‘worth’ £13 each to go in, £26 before you’ve crossed the threshold, but with our annual Zoo pass, well worth it. But taking everything into consideration, the staff, feeding all the animals in there (birds, fish, mammals) and keeping the place maintained, no wonder the fee is £13 each.
    Yes, I let a lot of my mother’s things go, but it was impossible to keep a whole houseful of things. But I kept the things I loved the most, and a lot of the good furniture has gone to our younger son who likes the older things more than modern things.


    1. Living Coasts looked great. I like marine/sea life. I fully intend making the most of the annual pass for Ironbridge. I kept a few favourite things that I grew up with too; I like having reminders of childhood.


  2. What a wonderful find, such an interesting museum! I had some lovely old tiles that my late mother had collected, but I allowed them to go to auction when I parted with some of her things. What wonderful examples of tiles you have shown here, they truly are works of art.
    Margaret P


    1. It was so interesting, Margaret. Probably the best museum I have been to. Don’t you think that some of the best times are when expectation is not great? It is a shame that we can’t hold on to everything. I let a number of pieces of my mother’s china go.


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