Wedged into the tightly-knit back alleys of Cheadle is A. W. N. Pugin’s awesome St Giles R. C. Church, a revelatory vision of colour, decoration and delight. For Pugin, who was received into the Catholic Church in 1835, the structure of a church was religion in built form, and the intent behind St Giles was to produce a modern version of a fourteenth-century country parish church. His patron was John Talbot, sixteenth Earl of Shrewsbury and the leading Catholic layman of the time, whose seat lay a few miles to the east at Alton Towers. St Giles was built in 1841-6, part of the multitudinous decorations on its soaring west steeple being twin Talbot hounds; below it are the striking west doors, each bearing the family symbol, a golden lion within a scalloped border on bright red ground. Inside the church, all is colour, ornament and pattern, from the encaustic tiles, which cover the entire floor area as well as the nave dados, to the gilded and painted roof. Work began on the interior decoration in 1844, and Pugin himself was responsible for the design of many of the church furnishings, including the majority of the tiles, which were manufactured by Minton’s. The tile pavement, ornate even at the west end where it includes several inscriptions, increases in compexity and lavishness to culminate in the sanctuary with its golden reredos of printed and painted tiles. The nave, porch and west tower floor tiles are all two-coloured encaustics (buff and red or buff and black) while those further east are multi-coloured. In sum, St Giles is a very English church; it was built by local men using local materials, all in the service of the only true church, and its tiles saw Pugin’s designs progress from the use of medieval motifs to a more individualistic and colourful approach. Click on the photos to enlarge, then use your browser's back button to return to this page.