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The only two examples in Wales of medieval pavements exposed and in use since they were laid are at St David’s Cathedral (Pembrokeshire) and Old Radnor Church (Powys); however, relaid medieval pavements are visible at several other sites, notably Neath Abbey (Neath Port Talbot) and Strata Florida Abbey (Ceredigion).
The elaborate Coade archway at Tremadoc Church (Gwynedd) was completed in 1811, while during 1839-51 Powys was the site of early experiments in the use of terracotta in church construction, with examples at Dolfor, Newtown, Penrhos and Welshpool. The border churches are rich in mid to late Victorian encaustic pavements, and merit further research. Most of the major suppliers were involved, although it was Godwin’s who made the ‘Revelations’ tiles designed by the architect J. P. Seddon and which may be seen in the churches at Llanbadarn Fawr (Ceredigion), Llandogo and Llangwm Uchaf (Monmouthshire) and Christ College Brecon (Powys). Superlative encaustic pavements and equally fine pictorial wall tiling form an integral part of the William Burges-designed medieval fantasy which is Cardiff Castle.
Ruabon (Wrexham), the ‘terracotta town’ of north Wales, is the source of much of the terracotta used in the construction of the great Victorian cities of England. Although this hard-wearing, colourful material was produced in Wales, many of the best examples of its use are outside the country, and only minimal amounts remain in Ruabon itself. There were two main Ruabon firms, established by Henry Dennis and J. C. Edwards, and many smaller works; Henry Dennis produced terracotta at the Hafod Brick & Tile Works during 1890‑1933. The Trefynant Fireclay Works of J. C. Edwards manufactured buff and pink terracotta, while Edwards’ trademark bright red terracotta was made at the Pen-y-bont Brick & Tile Works. The firm, reputed to be the world’s largest terracotta manufacturer, also produced interesting tiles and faience around the turn of the century. Cardiff’s Pierhead Building (1896-7), its ornate red terracotta supplied by Edwards, is probably the best-known building in Wales made from Welsh terracotta; Wrexham County Borough Museum has a good collection of J. C. Edwards material.
Wales had its share of early twentieth century cinemas, for instance the Carlton (now a bookshop), Swansea, with its Doulton Carraraware facade, but it was really after the Second World War that ceramic installations became popular again in Wales. Examples include the series (1975-91) of large-scale broken-tile mosaics by Kenneth and Oliver Budd at Newport, Gwen Heeney’s massive 1990s carved brick sculptures in Cardiff, and Penny Hampson’s Millennium Mural in Wrexham. Mention must also be made of the home-grown firm Craig Bragdy Design of Denbigh (Denbighshire), founded by Jean and Rhys Powell, who trained at Wallasey School of Art from 1948. They began making pottery and decorative tiles in the 1950s and went on to produce murals in the 1960s, eventually gaining contracts for large-scale murals in the Middle East and the USA; however, there appears to be only a single publicly-accessible Powell mural in Wales, at Denbigh Library (1989).
Suggested reading: Andrew Connolly, Life in the Victorian brickyards of Flintshire and Denbighshire (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, Llanwrst, 2003); Michael J. Dillon, Bricks, tiles and terracotta from Wrexham and Ruabon (Wrexham Maelor Borough Council, 1985); Ifor Edwards, ‘Claymasters and Clayworkers in the old parish of Ruabon’, Transactions of the Denbighshire Historical Society, vol 35 (1986), pp83-98; J. M. Lewis, The medieval tiles of Wales (National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, 1999). The Gazetteer entries for Wales are listed alphabetically by unitary council.
EBBW VALE (GLYNEBWY)
The 1992 Garden Festival Wales was held at a site in Victoria, at the southern end of Ebbw Vale. Although most of the artworks have long since gone, and the site was developed from the mid-1990s as the Festival Park Factory Shopping Village, Gwen Heeney’s carved brick sculpture Mythical Beast remains. The 98’ long spiral form incorporates seats and planting, and comprises 30,000 pieces initially carved by Heeney (b1952) from wet brick; the materials were supplied and fired by Ibstock Bricks.
The little Church of St Teilo (1849-51, Benjamin Ferrey) has Minton floor tiles throughout, including - on the font dais - blue and yellow designs representing the Holy Spirit.
The bus shelter on Pontycymer Square was lined with screen-printed tiles in 2000 as part of the Garw Valley Project which involved the community in producing decorative street furniture; the artists were Maureen O’Kane and Anne Gibbs.
St Tyfaelog Church was built in 1862-3 by the architect Charles Buckeridge of Oxford for the Rev. Gilbert Harries, rector of Gelligaer, some five miles to the south. Harries attempted to prevent those wishing for adult baptism by total immersion (a procedure popular in the mining communities of South Wales) from turning to the Baptist Church by promoting the construction of immersion fonts. His own church at Gelligaer has such a font, installed by Buckeridge during restoration in 1867-8, and the similar Pontlottyn example is near the west end of the church. It is approached by steps and lined with Godwin’s tiles, and there is a large white tiled cross on the floor of the baptistery.
CARDIFF (CAERDYDD)Cardiff Castle has occupied its present site since Roman times, but Cardiff itself only began to grow in size significantly when the second Marquess of Bute (1793-1848) developed the docks in what became known as Butetown, south of the Castle, from the 1830s. The docks provided an export outlet for iron and coal from the Valleys, and created much wealth for the Bute Estate. The third Marquess of Bute, who was only six months old when the second Marquess died, became fascinated by medieval art, ritual and religion, and eventually converted to Catholicism. His father had carried out very few works on the Castle, and after meeting the architect, designer and medievalist William Burges in 1865, the third Marquess set about transforming it into his vision of a truly medieval castle. The great Clock Tower was begun in 1869 and building continued until Bute’s death in 1900, with William Frame taking over after the death of Burges in 1881. The result was a dizzying sequence of elaborately decorated rooms within the towering western apartments, four of which include stunning displays of unique floor or wall tiles, merely one element in an overwhelmingly rich medieval fantasy. Be warned, though, that visitors on the generally available guided tours of the Castle do not see all the tiled rooms.
Burges based his interior decorative scheme for the Clock Tower on ‘The passing of time between January and December’, with the tile panels in the Summer Smoking Room, at the top of the tower, portraying legends of the zodiac. The wall tiling appears to have been completed in 1874; the designs were probably painted on Maw’s nine-inch square blanks by the artist Frederick Smallfield (1825-1915) using cartoons by Fred Weekes. The room is floored with a magnificent encaustic tile pavement whose circular arrangement centres on a map of the ancient world inlaid with silver, bronze and copper. The tiles, laid in concentric bands of the same motifs, depict symbols of the five continents and the Holy City, and life patterns of birds and beasts (Fig 347). Although all the Cardiff Castle tiles seem to have been supplied by W. B. Simpson & Sons, the firm did not make encaustic tiles, so these would have been obtained from manufacturers such as Maw’s (for whom Simpson’s were London agents), Craven Dunnill, or Godwin’s, who produced sophisticated pavements incorporating the Signs of the Zodiac at Rochester Cathedral around 1870 and Chichester Cathedral in 1871-2.
At the north end of the apartments is the Bute Tower, topped by the Roof Garden (Fig 348); this was completed in 1876 but Burges decided on the introduction of its painted narrative tiling in 1873, asking his friend and frequent collaborator, the Mexican-born architectural artist Horatio Walter Lonsdale (1844-1919) to prepare cartoons on the biblical theme ‘Elijah and the Prophets of Baal’ (Kings 1/18).[6 ]Lonsdale is also believed to have carried out the painting, which may have been his first attempt at tile decoration. Charles Campbell was probably responsible for the tiled calligraphic frieze which runs beneath the panels. In the Guest Tower (1877-8), reached via a corridor running north from the Clock Tower, is the Nursery, with a tile frieze showing images of fables and fairy tales; the tiles were painted by Lonsdale and the work was complete by 1879 (Fig 349). To the north is the Beauchamp Tower; the Chaucer Room, at its top, was decorated in 1879-89 as a sitting room for Lady Bute. Alphabet tiles line the fire surround and the floor has an octagonal encaustic and plain tile pavement in the form of a Burges-designed maze, possibly inspired by the labyrinth on the floor of Reims Cathedral, with which the architect was familiar.
Once reconstruction of the castle was in progress, Burges persuaded the Marquess to begin rebuilding Castell Coch (see Tongwynlais), a medieval castle lying about seven miles to the north-west, and in 1887-8 Bute’s passion for building and restoration extended to the archaeological excavation of the site of the thirteenth century Dominican priory Blackfriars. This lies immediately north-west of Cardiff Castle in Cooper’s Fields, part of Bute Park. Many late fifteenth century glazed two-colour tiles were found, and during the 1890s the Marquess had the nave and chancel of the former priory church laid out with Godwin’s encaustic tiles, all copies of the medieval designs with the addition of some bearing the Bute arms. Sadly over half of these tiles, including some with unique designs, had been lost to weather and theft by 1976, and those remaining were taken up and put into storage in 1984; there is little to be seen today.
After the death of the third Marquess in 1900, his son John continued with the restoration of Cardiff Castle, but following the sale of the Glamorgan estate in 1938 and the death of the fourth Marquess in 1947, the fifth Marquess presented the Castle and grounds to the city in the same year. Cardiff Castle is currently (2004) in the middle of a five-year conservation programme.
For a brief tour of tile locations in Cardiff’s centre, begin at the National Museum & Gallery, a quarter mile or so north-east of the Castle in Cathays Park. Beneath the stairway leading to the archaeology section is a large ceramic installation in bright primary colours; it dates from 1994 and was designed by the artist Patrick Caulfield (b1936). The title Flowers, Lily Pad, Pictures and Labels refers to nearby Monet paintings. The commission was executed in handmade tiles by Jean Paul Landreau (b1953), who has lived in Wales since 1987. From the Museum, walk south along Park Place, turning right into Queen Street and quickly left into Charles Street to find St David’s R. C. Cathedral, built in 1884-7 but reconstructed during the 1950s after bomb damage. The high-relief stations of the cross (1959), each with a distinctive red-glazed cross on an otherwise unglazed ground, are by Adam Kossowski; the differing shapes of the plaques are determined by the form of their subject matter. Also in 1959, Kossowski executed another set of ceramic stations of the cross, which can be found in the western suburb of Ely at St Francis R. C. Church, Cowbridge Road West (1960), where they are mounted on a sgraffito frieze.
At the far end of Charles Street turn right into Bridge Street, which curves round into Hayes Bridge Road. Here the Golden Cross PH has excellent Brain’s Brewery lettering on its faience exterior as well as a complete Craven Dunnill tiled interior of 1903 including two hand-painted pictorial panels, showing Cardiff Castle in 1903 and the Old Town Hall in 1863 (Fig 350). The star of this ceramic show is the long L-shaped ceramic bar counter featuring grotesque heads. Craven Dunnill were specialists in the production of these counters, which they made in two formats, a complex polychrome floral design dating from the mid-1890s, and the slightly later and relatively plain bar, as at the Golden Cross. Both types - floral and grotesques - appeared in the early twentieth century Craven Dunnill catalogue. The Golden Cross also has a post-1980 tile panel of Brain’s Old Brewery in St Mary Street, Cardiff, around 1890.
Now head north toward the main shopping area, along The Hayes. As the road broadens out into Victoria Place, the former Free Library (1880-2 and 1893-6, architect Edwin Seward of James, Seward & Thomas) can be seen, with its entrance to the left on Trinity Street (Fig 351). The earlier, northern section of this building is now a pub, while the southern part - in which there remains an unusual Burmantofts drinking fountain in green, brown and buff faience with two low relief female figures - has had varying short-term municipal functions. The main ceramic interest lies in the entrance corridor of 1882, which can be seen from the pub doorway on Trinity Street. This lavish vaulted passageway is lined with majolica, printed and painted tiles by Maws including designs by Walter Crane depicting the Seasons and the Times of Day. The floor is paved with patent mosaic tiles and even the barrel-vaults of the roof are clad in faience; the entire scheme cost £465 in 1882. Immediately north of the old library is the Church of St John the Baptist, St John Street; its Godwin encaustic tiled chancel pavement dates from restoration in 1884-9.
Further from the centre to the west is the Queen’s Vaults PH (now Flyhalf & Firkin), Westgate Street, just north of the Millennium Stadium; its tiled facade has elaborate lettering reading ‘Ind Coope & Co Entire’, ‘entire’ being better known as porter. To the south, across Central Square, is Cardiff Central Station (1932-4, Great Western Railway Architects’ Department) with much pale cream slabbed Doulton Carraraware featuring pointing fingers and platform numbers in amber. The faience underwent restoration in 2000.
Now to the suburbs, which expanded from the 1870s until just after 1900, with local landowners, notably the Bute Estate, retaining estate architects to ensure high quality designs. The housing is well known for its abundance of late Victorian and Edwardian porch tiles, plain and pictorial, as well as multicoloured tiled hall floors. The variety of designs, of both floors and porch tiling, was remarkable, and elaborate flooring could be found even in smaller houses. The best of the porch tiles can be seen in Pontcanna, just west of Bute Park, for instance in Cathedral Road; in Maindy, north of Bute Park, for instance in Colum Road where tiling by Gibbons, Hinton & Co of Brierley Hill, who supplied several builders in Cardiff, has been recorded; and in Roath (Y Rhath), about three miles north-east of the centre. Here there are especially good examples in Ninian Road, which was built between 1891 and around 1910 by the Bute Estate and is adjacent to Roath Park, and in nearby streets such as Kimberley Road (east of the park) and - west of the park -Alfred Street (1891-6), Diana Street (1891-5) and Angus Street (1891-5).
Next to the site of the National Assembly of Wales on Harbour Drive, looking out over Cardiff Bay, is the Pierhead Building, built in 1896-7 to the designs of William Frame, assistant to Burges at Cardiff Castle and Castell Coch. This landmark red gothic structure, entered at the base of its forceful clock tower, once housed the offices of the Bute Dock Company but now serves as an information centre for the National Assembly (Fig 352). Its bright red brick and terracotta was supplied by J. C. Edwards of Ruabon; the building is mentioned in the firm’s 1903 catalogue. The ornate terracotta detailing includes much heraldic work and an image of a steam train. Inside, red terracotta arches run throughout the central hall, and the colourful relief-tiled dado (probably also by Edwards) continues up the part-terracotta stairwell.
Head south along Harbour Drive towards the Norwegian Church, turning left into Britannia Quay, which runs alongside Roath Dock. Here there is a series of nine carved red brick seats - the Beastie Benches - made in 1994 by the ceramic artist Gwen Heeney. They were commissioned by Cardiff Bay Arts Trust and sponsored by Dennis Ruabon, who supplied the bricks. The designs were inspired by the mythical creatures described in the Dylan Thomas poem Ballad of the Long-Legged Bait and by the terracotta reliefs on the Pierhead Building. Another example of Heeney’s carved brick sculptures, Rhiannon, stands on Atlantic Wharf, just over half a mile to the north, beyond Cardiff Bay railway station.
Llandaff still feels very much like a self-contained village, and only became part of Cardiff in 1922. From the main Cardiff road, take the High Street - where there is a tile map of the locality designed and made by Angela Davies in 1981 for the Llandaff Society - to reach The Green and Llandaff Cathedral, set well down towards the river. The first sight of its interior is dominated by a blast of the twentieth century, the Jacob Epstein statue Christ in Majesty (1957) set upon a nakedly powerful parabolic concrete arch. It sits well in its medieval surroundings, as do the six Della Robbia Pottery plaques, The Six Days of Creation, given to the Cathedral in 1945 and now mounted in their original frame, designed by Frank Roper, behind the altar of the Dyfrig Chapel (Fig 353). The Pottery produced several versions of this series, based on the Edward Burne-Jones designs of 1893-8 for a similar set of stained glass windows, made by Morris & Co for the chapel of Manchester College, Oxford. On each of the six low-relief panels an angel holds a roundel, illustrating one of the six days. Various members of the Pottery are known to have worked on the Creation series including Harold Rathbone, Carlo Manzoni, Cassandia Annie Walker, Alice Maud Rathbone, Ruth Bare and Marianne de Caluwé. The panels, which use thin glazes, appear to have been produced from around 1901.[14 ]
TONGWYNLAISThe architect William Burges and his patron the third Marquess of Bute rebuilt medieval Castell Coch (Cadw), a mile north up the wooded hillside from Tongwynlais, in 1875-9. The decoration of its interior was carried out during the 1880s to detailed designs left by Burges, who died in 1881; it was completed in 1891. The tiled fire surround in the drawing room, which probably dates from around 1886-7, includes pretty zodiac designs produced by W. B. Simpson & Sons.
LLANGATHENThere is a decorative encaustic tile pavement in the area surrounding the main tombs inside St Cathen’s Church.
At 26 Terrace Road (which runs between the railway station and the sea front) is Dewhurst’s butcher’s with six Carter’s four-tile panels from the Farmyard series of animals and birds designed by E. E. Stickland around 1922 and used by Dewhurst’s over many years. Further seaward, on the corner of Terrace Road and Portland Street, is the White Horse Hotel, with a splendid tile and faience facade including good lettering and a superbly modelled rearing white horse on circular green ground (Fig 354). The facade is said to date from shortly after the First World War, but looks rather earlier.
On reaching the seafront, turn left and continue to the Old College, part of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, on New Promenade. This began life as the Castle Hotel (architect J. P. Seddon) in 1865, but reopened in 1872 as a university college, the first university institution to be established in Wales. A fire destroyed the south wing in 1885 and high on a turret of its 1888 replacement are three large mosaic panels designed by C. F. A. Voysey, showing Archimedes and symbols of modern science and industry.
Near the centre of Cardigan there is good turn-of-the-century porch tiling in Priory Street, where several porches display a pheasant design, and also in Morse Street, North Road and Gwbert Road, where there are floral relief tiles.
St Peter’s Church (1865-8, architect William Butterfield) has a tiled reredos.
The Church of St Padarn is almost immediately on the left after the Llanbadarn Fawr village turning off the A44 from Aberystwyth. The monastery founded by St Padarn on this site dates back to the sixth century, and parts of the present building date from around 1200; by the Dissolution, the parish was the most extensive in Wales. After the building of a new church in Aberystwyth, St Padarn fell into disrepair, and restoration was begun in 1868 under the architect J. P. Seddon. Three periods of restoration followed, 1868‑9, 1878-80 and 1882‑4. William Morris, founder in 1877 of SPAB, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, wrote to the vicar of St Padarn on the 29th September 1877 protesting at the proposed rebuilding of what was then the best thirteenth century church in Wales. Although he had previously produced glass for Seddon, and knew Seddon was to be the restorer, Morris made no mention of the architect in his letter. Seddon was mightily offended, and vitriolic correspondence ensued in the pages of the Ecclesiastical Art Review. Seddon eventually rebuilt the church using glass by Jesse Rust rather than Morris; he also used Rust’s mosaic in the choir pavement.
Seddon’s work included the introduction of Godwin’s encaustic tiles to his own design, athough at the time of writing (2004) most of these were covered by carpet. The four-tile groups show a Duplex or twin wick burner oil lamp (below the chancel arch), while those in the transepts show a figure on a throne, in fact an elder casting a crown; these tiles are from the ‘Revelations’ series designed by Seddon and used by him in the restoration of Llangwm Uchaf Church, Monmouthshire, around 1866-8; Christ College Chapel, Brecon, Powys (1861-4); and Sunningwell Church, Oxfordshire (1877). At St Padarn and Sunningwell the tiles are set in a mosaic pave
An unusual feature of St John’s Church (1880, architect R. J. Withers) is its colourful ceramic lectern in the form of an eagle and dragon. Near Penrhyn-coch is Crosswood Park (Trawsgoed), a vast mansion which was the ancestral home of the Earls of Lisburne. In its 1891 wing, which is now holiday accommodation with no public access, is an apartment with a tiled indoor water fountain installed for the Sixth Earl of Lisburne’s retriever. In another room is a Spanish tile panel depicting an elaborately-dressed Virgin Mary, which dates from the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries and was almost certainly made at one of the many factories in Triana, Seville.
STRATA FLORIDA ABBEY
Strata Florida Abbey (Cadw), about a mile south-east of Pontrhydfendigaid, was established by the Cistercians on its present site in 1166 and rebuilt following a fire in 1285. Early fourteenth century floor tiles still survive in the south transept chapels and in a small area against the west wall of the north transept. The tiles, which once paved a large part of the abbey church, were probably produced at a tilery in the upper Severn valley, around Shrewsbury. One unusual motif is a figure of a man wearing a doublet and apparently peering into a mirror; it is thought he may symbolise pride or vanity. The south transept pavements were restored in 1890 and the 1930s using fragments found in other areas of the church.
St Mary’s Church, the town’s parish church in the centre of Conwy, was originally the church of the Cistercian abbey of Aberconway. It was rebuilt during the fourteenth century and 110 medieval floor tiles - possibly dating from the early sixteenth century - found there during restoration around 1872 are now mounted on the south wall of the chancel. Just north of the church on the High Street is the Castle Hotel, an ancient coaching inn refaced in 1885 by Douglas & Fordham in broken limestone and red Ruabon brick and terracotta from J. C. Edwards. The architect John Douglas (1830-1911) frequently used the products of the Edwards works, his practice’s testimonial appearing in an Edwards price list of 1896; the Castle Hotel was mentioned in the 1903 Edwards catalogue. The hotel’s terracotta includes ornate fenestration and panels of Jacobean-style strapwork.
The Oriel Mostyn (1901, George Alfred Humphreys), Vaughan Street, has an excellent red terracotta facade by J. C. Edwards including several modelled figures. The Llandudno architect G. A. Humphreys (1865-1948) was surveyor to Lord and Lady Mostyn, whose family were responsible for the development of Llandudno by the Mostyn Estates from 1849. Nearby Imperial Buildings (1898) also has the remains of a good red terracotta facade above first floor level.
A previously gloomy lobby area of Glan Clwyd Hospital (Ysbyty Glan Clwyd) was brightened up considerably by the introduction of a series of tile panels by Bronwyn Williams-Ellis in 2001. The panels show colourful scenes of parrots in flight, and were carried out using cuerda seca outlines and several layers of glazes. The hospital stands about half a mile north of the main road through Bodelwyddan, the A55.
St Stephen’s Church, rebuilt by T. H. Wyatt in 1865, has a colourful encaustic tile pavement in the chancel and an extensive glazed tile reredos by Maw & Co, including alpha and omega symbols and lettering.
In the stairwell of Denbigh Library, Museum and Art Gallery, Hall Square, is a large ceramic mural (1989) by the local firm Craig Bragdy Design; it depicts local scenes and can be viewed from several levels. The encaustic tile pavement in the lavishly fitted chancel of St David’s Church (rebuilt 1894-5, architect R. Lloyd Williams), St David’s Lane, was supplied by Carter’s of Poole.
The medieval Church of St Teyrnog was expensively restored by the architect William Eden Nesfield (1835-88) during 1876-8, at the same time as he was working on St Mary’s Church, Bolton-on-Swale, North Yorkshire. In both churches he installed fashionable Spanish-style cuenca tiling almost certainly manufactured by Frederick Garrard of Millwall; at Llandyrnog it forms a dado on the east wall of the sanctuary.
At Plas Newydd, Butler Hill, the home of the famous Ladies of Llangollen from 1780, are four complete Dutch delft-tiled fire surrounds which were probably installed during the nineteenth century. The tiles themselves variously date from the first half of the seventeenth century, in two of the first floor fireplaces, to around 1800 in a ground floor fire surround.
On the seafront at Prestatyn, just off Beach Road at its junction with Bastion Road (which runs seaward from the railway station), is the Wavey Ceramic Mural by Teena Gould; it was made around 1999 and is one of the artworks on the Sustrans National Cycle Network. The mural covers two large gable ends, one of which appears to depict a giant cockerel in tiles and mosaic.
At the entrance to Rhyl Library, Museum and Arts Centre, Church Street, is a mural by the ceramicist Maggie Humphry, who lived and worked in north Wales from around 1970 until 1999, after which she moved to Shropshire. The design of the main panel, which is seven feet in diameter, is based on the mythical tale of the bard Taliesin.
George Gilbert Scott’s 1867-75 restoration of St Asaph Cathedral included the introduction of a glazed inlaid tile pavement by Maw & Co into the chancel; some of the motifs are said to be based on those of medieval tiles found during the restoration work. The rich sixteen-tile groups repeated in the sanctuary were designed for Maw’s by the architect George Goldie, one of their regular designers. The same group can also be found in the Lady Chapel of Chester Cathedral, where they were installed in the 1860s. The Chester and St Asaph tiles were supplied by W. B. Simpson & Sons, who were the sole agents for Maw’s products in London from 1858.
Encaustic tile pavements were installed at several Flintshire churches in the late Victorian period, for instance Emmanuel Church, Mold Road, Bistre, Buckley (manufacturer J. C. Edwards, fitted 1881); St David’s Church, Chester Road, Pentre, Flint (Minton, 1872) where the tiling included references to the builders of the church, and there is also yellow terracotta detailing; St Mary the Virgin, Halkyn (Campbell Brick & Tile Co, 1878) designed by John Douglas for the Duke of Westminster’s Flintshire estate; St Mary’s Church, Nannerch (Minton, 1853); and St John Evangelist, Rhydymwyn (Minton, 1863).
In Queensferry but not of it, the former General Office Building of Shotton Steelworks (now the headquarters of Corus Colors) stands isolated on the north bank of the River Dee, opposite the town and close to Hawarden Bridge railway station (Fig 355). The works, which originally made corrugated galvanised iron sheets, was established in 1896 by John Summers & Sons, a clog-nail making firm from Stalybridge, and expanded rapidly during the early years of the twentieth century. Production at Shotton soon outstripped that of Stalybridge and it was decided to move the head office to Shotton; the General Office Building was erected in 1907-8 to the designs of the architect James Harold France (b1872) of Manchester, a friend of the family. France was in partnership with the Blackburn-based architect Harry Smith Fairhurst from around 1901; the partnership was dissolved in 1905, after which Fairhurst immediately began designing some of Manchester’s most notable buildings, including several of the massive Whitworth Street warehouses.
Perhaps the Summers & Sons commission was the opportunity for France to show his erstwhile partner (who had been articled to Maxwell & Tuke of Blackpool Tower fame) that he could also build on a grand scale, for the General Office Building is a tour-de-force in ochre terracotta, most likely by J. C. Edwards of Ruabon, with unusual art nouveau detailing and a gloriously confident turreted facade. The imposing porch, above which the terracotta bears the legend ‘JSS 1907’, is reached by a terracotta bridge over what could easily be interpreted as a moat. Inside, the little-altered entrance hall is lined with green-glazed and tube-lined tiles, perhaps by Wooliscroft’s, with some hand-painted tiles on the stairwell. The stained glass and other fittings are equally ornate. The building was wholly appropriate for a company which was one of the world’s largest manufacturers of galvanised sheeting by the 1920s. Ownership of the works was transferred to the British Steel Corporation in 1967, and then to Corus in 1999, following British Steel’s merger with Koninklijke Hoogovens. The General Office Building, with its feast of ceramic decoration, is currently (2004) unprotected by listing.
The Cathedral of St Deiniol was restored in 1868-73 by George Gilbert Scott and further work was carried out during 1879-80. Medieval tiles were discovered in both phases, and tiles found in the latter period had been relaid by 1892 at the west end of the north aisle, where they remain today, albeit hidden by carpet in the bookshop. These tiles probably date from the first quarter of the fourteenth century. The extensive Craven Dunnill floor tiling installed around 1875 includes very unusual line impressed and relief glazed tiles in mainly green, red and yellow, their designs probably drawing on those of their medieval predecessors. Maw & Co also supplied tiles to Bangor; some border tiles bear their mark, and the Cathedral is mentioned in their 1906 catalogue.
Near the Cathedral, on the exterior of St Deiniol’s Shopping Centre, is the three-part ceramic St Deiniol’s Mural (1992) by Maggie Humphry showing local and historical scenes.
The Chapel of Art, 8 Marine Crescent, is a former chapel built in 1878 and converted to an arts centre in 1989-95. Leading up to it is the International Potters’ Path, a pathway comprising thousands of hand-made tiles by individual potters around the world. Its first phase was completed at the end of 1999, and tiles are still being added.
In the washrooms of the Portmeirion Hotel are colourful tiled panels (1989) by Bronwyn Williams-Ellis, some depicting exotic mermaids.
The churchyard of the former St Mary’s Church, Church Street, is entered through a Coade stone archway, a wonderful castellated gothic revival structure ornamented with elephant heads (Fig 356). Both church and arch were completed in 1811 and paid for by the local woollen mill owner William Alexander Maddocks. The archway was repaired in the late 1960s but has since deteriorated; restoration is currently being undertaken by the local buildings preservation trust, the Friends of Tremadog (Cyfeillion Cadw Tremadog).
Ancient Llanbadrig Church, just east of Cemaes Bay, was restored in 1884 at the expense of the 3rd Lord Stanley of Alderley (1827-1903), a diplomat and orientalist who succeeded to the peerage and estates in Cheshire and Anglesey in 1869. He stipulated that Llanbadrig’s interior decorative scheme should include elements repesenting his adopted Muslim faith, thus there is much red, blue and white in the stained glass, and a pretty blue glass-tiled dado in the sanctuary. The custom-made Powell’s tiles show a variety of mainly floral motifs.
The dairy (now tea room) at Plas Newydd (NT), on the banks of the Menai Strait, has almost fully tiled walls in a geometric pattern of white and dark green.
The Tower (no public access) was built in the early nineteenth century to house workers on the Penrhos estate on Holy Island. The former dairy, which was added around 1885, has a complete Minton Hollins interior tile scheme of blue and white printed tiles as well as four pictorial panels, three probably based on designs by William Wise. The largest panel, showing a milkmaid, was painted by W. B. Simpson & Sons, and the floor is also tiled in blue and white. The wall tiles had been hidden beneath layers of paint and wallpaper for many years, but were rediscovered in the 1980s.
The Old Town Hall, High Street, was built in 1896-7 to the designs of local architect E. A. Johnson. The exterior displays much terracotta ornament and the main staircase hall is a real ceramic treat, with stylish faience and tiling. The grade II listed building was last in use in 2001, when it functioned as a nightclub, but firm plans to redevelop it as a media and arts centre were unveiled in 2004.
On the facade of the interwar Burton’s in the High Street is a black ceramic panel measuring about 7’ by 9’ which bears orange-glazed lettering reading: ‘Let Montague Burton The Tailor of Taste Dress You’.
On the exterior of the Tesco store in Station Road is a pair of ceramic tile panels (1998) by the potter Ned Heywood (b1947) of Chepstow; they show local historical scenes including the Severn Bridge.
The chancel of St Oudoceus Church (1859-61, architect J. P. Seddon) was decorated in 1889 with a scheme by Seddon & Carter which includes wall paintings and Powell’s opus sectile work on the east wall with figures designed by Harry Wooldridge and Frank Mann. In the sanctuary there are also Godwin’s encaustic tiles to Seddon’s design showing an elder casting a crown; these tiles are from the ‘Revelations’ series also used in Seddon’s restorations of Christ College Chapel, Brecon, Powys (1861-4); Llangwm Uchaf Church (around 1866-8), Monmouthshire; St Padarn (1868‑9, 1878-80 and 1882‑4), Llanbadarn Fawr, Ceredigion; and Sunningwell Church (1877), Oxfordshire.
LLANFAIR KILGEDDIN (LLANFAIR CILGEDIN)
Although the main attraction of the Church of St Mary the Virgin, now in the care of the Friends of Friendless Churches, is the 1888-90 scheme of sgraffito wall decoration by the artist Heywood Sumner, there is also decorative floor tiling throughout, installed by the architect J. D. Sedding during his 1873-6 reconstruction of the church.
The Church of St Ffwyst was restored in 1872, probably by the architect J. P. Seddon; a decorative tile pavement runs throughout.
LLANGATTOCK NIGH USK (LLANGATWG DYFFRYN WYSG)
The village is also known as The Bryn. Tiles dating from around 1455-80 have been relaid as panels in the west wall of St Cadoc’s Church; they are Malvern-type designs probably made at the Cadogan House kiln in Monmouth.
LLANGATTOCK-VIBON-AVEL (LLANGATWG FEIBION AFEL)
The encaustic tile pavement (1866) at St Cadoc’s Church, which includes biblical texts on the sanctuary steps, was installed by church decorators and furnishers Cox & Son.
St Jerome’s Church, which stands about a quarter mile up the valley from St John’s Church, Llangwym Isaf, was partly rebuilt in 1863-9 by J. P. Seddon. The extensive nave (red and yellow plain tiles) and chancel tiling dates from around 1866-8, and includes patterned tiles by Maw & Co as well as examples of the ‘Revelations’ series designed by Seddon and made by Godwin’s. The focus in the chancel is on a patriarchal or two-barred cross in black and green triangular tiles, into which are set several four-tile groups including, at the intersections, an agnus dei with the Book of Seven Seals, one of the ‘Revelations’ motifs. Either side of the cross are other ‘Revelations’ groups including the nine-tile set showing a winged figure surrounded by seven lamps. The Duplex (twin-wick) burner oil lamp group is also present, on the step leading to the tower, north of the chancel. All this elaboration lies behind a fantastic rood screen of about 1500, partly reconstructed by Seddon in 1876-8.
The architect John Norton’s restoration of St Mary’s Church in 1861-8 included the installation of a decorative encaustic tile pavement in the chancel.
In the centre of Monmouth on Church Street is St Mary’s Church, which has a good collection of medieval tiles, some thirteenth century but mostly fifteenth century, relaid in the floor and walls of the south aisle. The later tiles have Malvern-type designs and were produced just north of the church at the Cadogan House kiln on Monk Street; this is the only first-floor kiln to have been found in Wales. The wide range of designs includes several armorial tiles and a St Agatha tile, whose inscription was said to provide protection against fire.
South-west of the church, at the far end of Monnow Street, is Monnow Bridge and its fortified gate, Britain’s only surviving example of a medieval gate-tower on a bridge at the entrance to a town. Adjacent is the History Wheel (2002) a ceramic installation by the Chepstow potter Ned Heywood, with forty stoneware segments showing local historical images on a circular platform.
TINTERN ABBEY (ABATY TYNDYRN)
A Cistercian foundation was established at Tintern in 1131. Almost nothing remains of the earliest church; the ruins of Tintern Abbey (Cadw) as seen today date from the early thirteenth to the mid fourteenth centuries. A few plain medieval floor tiles remain in the Chapter House. Outside the main site, at the foot of the hillside to the south, lies the early thirteenth century St Anne’s House, incorporating the gatehouse and chapel. Inside are relaid late thirteenth century tiles from the abbey church.
A mile west of Neath is the Cistercian foundation of Neath Abbey (Cadw), which originally had extensive and elaborate fourteenth century tile pavements. Their deteriorating condition led to them being lifted during the 1980s, and they are now preserved under cover at the site, laid out in the vaulted undercroft of the dormitory. The designs include a rectangular tile showing knight on horseback. A few tiles also remain in the ruined abbey church, in the south choir aisle.
Dominating the view from the train entering Newport is the smoothly white and vaguely Italianate Civic Centre, its tower looming over the town from Godfrey Road, west and uphill from the station; the architect was T. Cecil Howitt (1889-1968) of Nottingham. The first phase of building was carried out in 1937-9, but it was 1964 before the Civic Centre was complete; Howitt’s Home Brewery in Nottingham, another towered structure, suffered similar war-related delays. The upper part of the Civic Centre’s stair hall was painted in 1961-4 with a series of eleven history murals by Hans Feibusch; set into the ground floor, below this breathtaking scheme, is a marble mosaic of the town’s coat of arms by the artist Kenneth Budd.
Buoyed with confidence from this hugely successful venture into municipal decoration, it seems Newport developed something of an obsession with mural art. To see the results, head east from the railway station towards the remains of the medieval castle, crossing the north end of the main shopping area to reach the Old Green roundabout. The descent to the pedestrianised centre is brightened considerably by a 1990 shopping-themed mural, the work of Kenneth Budd (d1995) and his son Oliver Budd. Highly coloured rectangular industrial tiles flank a large tile and mosaic mural, while smaller mosaic panels run through the adjacent subway. Kenneth Budd produced large-scale mosaic works from the early 1960s, with Oliver joining his father’s Kent-based firm in 1982. Their work often involved the use of cut tile along with other elements, the tiles normally being imported from Germany. On the far side of the roundabout, on the curving wall below the castle ruins, is The Monmouthshire Railway and Canal Company (1975) a large, partly mosaic installation by Kenneth Budd depicting the part played by the canal and railway in Newport’s growth. Continue on through the subway leading to Baltic Wharf, above the River Usk, to see yet more mosaics of local scenes (1991) by Kenneth and Oliver Budd.
Now return to the town centre and go south to find John Frost Square, the centrepiece of the town’s 1970s redevelopment. Its tunnel-like northern entrance is much enhanced by the Chartist Mural (Kenneth Budd, 1978), a 120’ long tile and mosaic mural (made from around 200,000 pieces) commemorating the 1839 Chartist uprising in Newport, when the Chartists, headed by John Frost, marched to the nearby Westgate Hotel and were fired upon (Fig 357).
Newport’s other ceramic locations are more distant, the closest being the drinking fountain (1913) near the west end of the Cathedral of St Woolos on Stow Hill, nearly half a mile south - and up - from the centre. This elaborate olive green and mottled dark blue faience fountain was most probably made by Doulton’s, who produced several such monumental fountains in the early years of the twentieth century; the date of the Newport example is unusually late (Fig 358). It was presented to the town by the British Women’s Temperance Association and moved to Stow Hill from nearby Belle Vue Park in 1996. The Park itself, a little south of the Cathedral on Belle Vue Lane, was designed by Thomas Mawson and opened in 1894; its 1910 terraces and tea pavilion (undergoing restoration in 2004) have rich red terracotta dressings. On the southern edge of Newport in the suburb of Pillgwenlly, nearly a mile south-east of Belle Vue Park and close to the famous Transporter Bridge (1901-6), is the Waterloo Hotel, at the south end of Alexandra Road. It retains half of its Doulton faience barfront of 1904, the other half having been exported to the USA.
On the north-eastern edge of Newport, nearer junction 24 of the M4 than anything else, is the Celtic Manor Resort Hotel at Coldra Woods. Its foyer is graced by a suspended ceramic panel showing local scenes designed and made around 2001 by the potter Ned Heywood of Chepstow.
The suburb of Duffryn is now best-known for its collection of late twentieth century factories, offices and housing, developed from 1974 in the vast parkland of Tredegar House, a grand mansion owned by the Morgan family. The town of Tredegar, near Ebbw Vale, took its name from the house; the family were major landowners in the area. The Victorian kitchen of Tredegar House has fairly plain and functional wall tiling by Maw & Co, but of more interest are the Dutch tiles found in fire surrounds throughout the house, particularly the eighteenth century tiles in the Best Room which show figures on horseback.
Pembrokeshire has an abundance of churches with mid to late Victorian encaustic tile pavements and other ceramic decoration. Churches with worthwhile tile pavements include those at Angle, Cosheston (also tiled dado), Hodgeston (Minton with arms of incumbent), the impressive Monkton, Prendergast (a fine Godwin floor) and St Bride’s (Godwin, arms of local landowner Lord Kensington). Slebech Church (closed 1991) has an excellent and extensive Chamberlain encaustic pavement dating from around 1843-4 with specially-made armorial tiles. At Nevern, geometric tiling by Minton Hollins flanks the reredos, and there are tiled reredoses at Llanychaer and Meline.
John Frederick Campbell, first Earl Cawdor, restored all the churches on his south Pembrokeshire estate during the 1850s, beginning with Stackpole (1851-2 by George Gilbert Scott), near the now-demolished family home, Stackpole Court. As at Bosherton (restored 1856), Castlemartin (1858), St Petrox (1855), St Twynnells (1858), and Warren (1856), the tile pavement is by Minton and bears Cawdor heraldic motifs.
The sanctuary pavement of St Mary’s Church includes relaid fifteenth and sixteenth century heraldic tiles, some originally used at Carew Castle. There are a number of square Malvern-type designs as well as unusual rectangular tiles which may have been made locally.
ST DAVID’S (TYDDEWI)
On the three steps leading to the high altar in the choir of St David’s Cathedral is one of the best surviving medieval tile pavements in Wales. Some of these sixteenth century tiles were relaid during George Gilbert Scott’s restoration of the Cathedral in the 1860s, but others remain in situ; all were made in the Severn Valley, many probably originating at a kiln in the Worcester area. The designs were copied by Godwin’s for the extensive (and still extant) encaustic tile pavement installed in the Cathedral as part of Scott’s restoration work (Fig 359).
Half a mile south of St David’s itself, on the road to St Non’s Bay, is an 1865 gothic villa, now the Warpool Court Hotel, which was occupied by the Williams family during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Mrs Ada Lansdown Williams raised six children at the house, and on becoming a widow, took inspiration from Howel the Good (Hywel Dda), King of Wales in the tenth century, who ruled that a genealogical record of each family should be preserved in imperishable material in their own home. From 1893 she meticulously painted the detailed history of her family on around 3,000 eight-inch square white tiles, all of different design; there are armorial motifs, tiles resembling illuminated manuscripts and others showing events from her life. The tiles were sent to England for firing then mounted on walls throughout the house, where they remain as a unique genealogical mural. She also found time to copy Walter Crane’s Flower Fairies series for the nursery.
Patterned Victorian encaustic tile pavements are common in the churches of Powys, with a wide range of manufacturers responsible for supplying the tiles including, in central Powys or Radnorshire, Chamberlain (at St Mary, New Radnor, 1845), Craven Dunnill, J. C. Edwards, Godwin, Maw and Webb’s Worcester Tileries. Godwin’s provided wall tiles for St Meilig, Llowes, in 1891-2, although most of this ornate sanctuary dado was removed in 1931, as it had deteriorated and was disliked.
The mid-Victorian period in the Welsh borders also saw a brief experiment with the use of terracotta in church construction. For reasons of economy - terracotta was available locally - and originality the Oswestry architect Thomas Penson (c1790-1859), County Surveyor of Denbighshire and Montgomeryshire for over thirty years, used yellow moulded bricks and terracotta rather than stone for the arches and vaulting of Christ Church (1839-44), Welshpool, quickly following this with limited external use of the material at St Agatha (1844-5), Llanymynech, Shropshire. At his final brick and terracotta church, St David (1843-7), Newtown, there was no stone whatsoever. Sidney Smirke used yellow brick and a sprinkling of terracotta at Holy Trinity (1845), Penrhos, and lastly there is St Paul’s Church (1851, architect T. G. Newenham), Dolfor, where the ornate window tracery and much else is of terracotta. However, with no medieval precedent for the use of terracotta in gothic revival churches, there was little enthusiasm from architects or critics.
Christ College, Bridge Street, was founded in 1541, but by 1837 its attendance had fallen to just seven boys. A new governing body decided to rebuild the school, and the architects Prichard & Seddon won a competition for its new design in 1859; this included the conversion of part of the medieval friary to form the College Chapel. Building work began in 1861 and was almost finished by mid 1864, but the Chapel’s wall decoration was still incomplete in 1885. The surviving Christ College drawings, including designs for tiles and tile arrangements, indicate that John Pollard Seddon was largely responsible for the restoration of the Chapel. Its sanctuary encaustic pavement includes two sets of nine-tile groups showing seven lamps, part of Seddon’s ‘Revelations’ series manufactured by Godwin’s, which were later used at Llangwm Uchaf Church, Monmouthshire (around 1866-8), Llanbadarn Fawr Church, Ceredigion (1868-9 at the earliest) and Sunningwell Church, Oxfordshire (1877). Assuming the pavement of Christ College Chapel was installed during the main period of construction, 1861-4, this could be first use of ‘Revelations’ tiles; however, part of the series appears at St Oudoceus, Llandogo, Monmouthshire, built in 1859-61 but with decoration of a slightly later date.
The eccentric visionary and preacher Joseph Lyne, known as Father Ignatius (d1908) founded the monastery of Capel-y-ffin in 1869. Building work continued on the church until 1882, but the vaulting collapsed around 1920; Eric Gill set up a self-sufficient religious community at the monastery during the 1920s. The tiled grave of Father Ignatius, restored around 1970, stands in the centre of the ruined church, to which there is no public access.
HAY-ON-WYE (Y GELLI)
Richard Booth’s bookshop, 44 Lion Street, occupies a former agricultural suppliers; its two pilasters display cow and sheep tiles from Wedgwood and images of farming activities from T. & R. Boote.
The spire of Holy Trinity Church (1851-3) can be seen for miles around, which was probably the intent of its patron, the Liverpool banker John Naylor whose Leighton Hall (no public access), a mile to the south, was put up around 1850-6; Naylor bought the Leighton estate in 1849. The architect for both church and hall was W. H. Gee of Liverpool. A Minton tile pavement, with some designs by A. W. N. Pugin, runs throughout the church, and the same manufacturer’s tiles were also used in the Hall, which Pugin and J. G. Crace had been asked to decorate following the success of the Medieval Court at the Great Exhibition. The estate, with its spectacular gardens, was broken up in the 1920s and the Hall remained largely unused, falling into a state of great disrepair until restoration began in 1995.
Just north of Newtown railway station is the monumental form of St David’s Church, New Road, completed in 1847 and the last of Thomas Penson’s terracotta churches. His apse was replaced by a yellow brick chancel in 1874-5, when the internal galleries were also removed. The internal terracotta was painted with a colourful scheme in the early 1960s. Head north along New Church Street to reach the town centre, turning right into High Street to find the delightful W. H. Smith’s, opened in 1927 and restored to its original state in 1975 as the company’s contribution to European Architectural Heritage Year.[44 ]Although the shop was modernised around 1960, none of the many tile panels was removed, and the shop is now a treasure trove of ceramic advertisements (Fig 360). Products and services featured in panels on the facade, in the front bookstall and in the first floor museum include ‘Newspapers regularly delivered’, ‘Guide books and maps of all parts’ and ‘Books on architecture’, each with an appropriate image. The panels, with lettering designed by Eric Gill, were produced by Carter’s of Poole for the W. H. Smith chain during the 1920s. This timewarp of a shop is even stranger when entered via the modern shopping development at its rear.
Returning to the present day, terminating the view at the east end of the High Street is the red brick and buff terracotta clock tower of Barclay’s Bank, actually Cross Buildings, Broad Street, put up by the Birmingham architects Wood & Kendrick (best known for their pubs) in 1898-1900. It was erected at the cost of local landowner Sarah Brisco and intended to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. This outstanding example of terracotta modelling, with its ornate plaques and strapwork, is mentioned in the 1903 catalogue of J. C. Edwards of Ruabon.
OLD RADNOR (PENCRAIG)
St Stephen’s Church, rebuilt during the fifteenth and late sixteenth centuries, retains four groups of medieval tiles, most with relief and counter-relief decoration. These in situ tiles and the repaired pavement at St David’s Cathedral are the only two examples in Wales of medieval pavements exposed and in use since they were laid. St Stephen’s was restored in 1882, when Godwin’s plain and encaustic tiles were introduced, but their designs do not appear to have been derived from their medieval predecessors (Fig 361).
WELSHPOOL (Y TRALLWNG)
Welshpool lies immediately north-east of Powis Castle (NT), whose grounds are accessible on foot from a path leading off the High Street, the town’s main shopping street. Beyond this point, climb west along the High Street, which becomes Chapel Street and then Mount Street; at its top, look left for a narrow lane which winds upward to the former Christ Church (now a private house, no public access), built for the Earl of Powis in 1839-44 by Thomas Penson; this was the architect’s first terracotta church, where the material was used internally in arches and vaults. There is a fine view from the churchyard, on the edge of the great park.
Back in the centre of town, off Broad Street to the south is New Street and the turn-of-the-century Welsh Independent Baptist Church, its facade a feast of yellow dog-tooth terracotta. At the east end of Broad Street is Church Street; on the left is the Past Times shop, formerly I. & M. Morris agricultural implement suppliers, with good red terracotta ornament including head-shaped keystones.
Porth Public Library, Pontypridd Road, was built around 1912 as a pair of shops, with rich red terracotta ornament including figures as corbels; the building was restored around 1999 by Shaws of Darwen.
The twin-towered former Carlton Cinema, Oxford Street, was built in 1912-14 to the designs of Swansea architect Charles Tamlin Ruthen for the Swansea Electric Cinema Company. Having survived the Second World War almost intact, the Carlton closed as a cinema in 1977, re-opening as Waterstone’s bookshop in 1995 after a long planning battle which almost resulted in its demolition. The fine Edwardian baroque Doulton Carraraware facade includes four friezes of dancing cherubs.
Inside St Alban’s R. C. Church (1844-6), George Street, are several works carried out in 1955-6 by the artist Adam Kossowski. There are fourteen glazed ceramic Stations of the Cross, a mahogany altar crucifix with ceramic inlay, and two glazed ceramic holy water stoups. The exterior of Pontypool Rugby Club features a colourful 45 square yard mosaic mural entitled Try and Try Again! which was designed and made by Oliver Budd in 1992-4; the materials included cut tile.
In the priory church of Ewenny Priory (Cadw), at the crossing, is a frame containing relaid early sixteenth century tiles taken up from the north transept. The presbytery was floored with Godwin tiles in the late nineteenth century, their lay-out possibly being derived from the medieval pavement. In the adjoining churchyard are several low-lying grave surrounds, dating from the 1940s to the early 1960s, made from a ceramic material which successfully imitates grey or black ganite.
Sadler’s fish and game shop in Victoria Road, almost opposite Penarth railway station, has one fully-tiled interior wall with two large Minton Hollins pictorial panels, one of fish and one of game; they were probably designed by Albert Slater. Nearer the shore, several houses on Marine Parade and Bridgeman Road have two, three or even four red terracotta dragon finials.
The cuenca wall tiles either side of the reredos at St John Baptist Church, restored by G. E. Street in 1872-4, were almost certainly made by Frederick Garrard of Millwall.
CHIRK (Y WAUN)
Very little of the interior decorative scheme designed by A. W. N. Pugin and J. G. Crace for Chirk Castle (NT) in 1845-8 survives, although there are Pugin-designed Minton-tiled fire surrounds of 1847 in the Long Gallery, along with other Minton fireplaces in areas not normally open to the public. After Pugin’s death in 1852, his son Edward Welby Pugin carried out further works at Chirk, most probably including the design of tiles with motifs of a hand and the letter ‘M’ for Robert Myddelton Biddulph (1805-72) in 1858. These were manufactured by Minton’s but none remain in situ at the Castle.
Above and beyond the southern end of the Pont Cysyllte aqueduct, at the side of the main road through Froncysyllte (the A5), is a wonderfully intact war memorial fountain of 1909 in cream and grey-green faience, almost certainly by Doulton (Fig 362).
The boom in the development of brickworks in Flintshire and Denbighshire began in the 1860s, driven by the easy availability of workable clay and coal, and often finance from English entrepreneurs. By the turn of the century there were nearly 130 such works - about thirty in the Ruabon area alone - ranging in size from small country brickyards to industrial-scale brick and terracotta works such as J. C. Edwards, which exported their wares around the world. Clayholes, some of huge dimensions, coal pits and spoil heaps were common. Brickmaking enjoyed its most prosperous times between the 1880s and the early years of the twentieth century, following which came a long decline due to lack of investment and difficulties with clay supplies. Even in the 1960s there was still much physical evidence of this industrial past, but today very little remains, with only a single firm, Dennis Ruabon (see Johnstown below), still maintaining production in Denbighshire.
In terms of visible architectural terracotta, central Ruabon is now something of a disappointment, with only odd pieces of decorative ware, for instance the red terracotta lettering on the County Constabulary building of 1896, to be seen. In fact most locally-produced terracotta was used in the construction of Victorian cities, at home and abroad, but enough may still be seen around the outskirts of Ruabon to give an intriguing flavour of the town’s appearance when the industry was at its height, when Ruabon was Terracottapolis and J. C. Edwards said to be the largest manufacturer of terracotta in the world, producing buff and pink wares (as well as tiles) at Trefynant, on the south-western edge of Ruabon, and their trademark bright red terracotta at the Pen-y-bont works in Cefn-mawr, down in the valley to the south.
The Pen-y-bont Brick & Tile Works of James Coster Edwards (1828-96) was established in 1865. J. C. Edwards instigated the annual Edwards Terracotta Competition in 1880, to promote the use of terracotta in architectural design, and several prizewinning entries appeared in the firm’s 1890 catalogue. In 1882 he built a block of four model cottages near the entrance of the Pen-y-bont Works; they were designed by George Canning Richardson, head of J. C. Edwards’ design department, and acted as advertisements for the firm’s products. The occupants were the works managers of the terracotta, encaustic tile, blue brick and roofing tile departments. Along with terracotta blocks lying amidst the overgrown ruins, these cottages and a few office buildings (on the east side of the B5605, opposite Newbridge) are all that remain of the vast works, which finally ceased to function in 1961.
The works which became Dennis Ruabon was established by Henry Dennis (1825-1906) at the Hafod Colliery, Johnstown, in 1879; access is via a signposted by-road running north of the B5426 just west of its junction with the A483. Although the works is much diminished, with many kilns being demolished during the 1980s, it continues to produce quarry tiles and clay pavers. There is still a good deal of architectural work to see, including two turn-of-the-century red terracotta plaques set into the walls, one a coat of arms, the other figurative and bearing the words ‘Terracotta Works’ (Fig 363). The paving outside the offices includes a fine welsh dragon in cut brick, and there is external, probably 1960s, wall tiling in bright geometric patterns of yellow, brown and orange.
Protruding from the gable of the Nag’s Head PH, Hall Street, is a well-modelled red terracotta horse’s head.
St John’s Church, Church Street (just north of the B5605) was rebuilt and refitted in 1887-8, partly at the cost of the claymaster J. C. Edwards, whose Pen-y-bont and Trefynant Works lay within a mile or so of St John’s. The Wrexham Advertiser recorded that Edwards supplied encaustic tiles, made at his own works, for the pavement which ran throughout the church; this includes five unusual four-tile groups, one depicting three fishes. Edwards died in 1896, and an elaborate tiled reredos was erected in his memory in 1906. It was made at the Trefynant Works by members of the congregation and that of a nearby church, and combines encaustic, relief moulded and plain tiles. In the churchyard is headstone with two inset relief tiles dating from the 1880s.
J. C. Edwards had established his works, eventually known as the Trefynant Fireclay Works, at Trefynant, just east of Trevor, by 1856. Almost nothing remains today apart from the gateposts of the company’s main office building, which stood on the south side of the Ruabon-Llangollen road, the A539 (immediately east of the turning to the Pont Cysyllte aqueduct). The red brick and terracotta piers are marked ‘J C Edwards’ and ‘Offices’. Opposite is an ornate pinky-red brick and terracotta villa, which must surely display local wares even if having no connection with the old works.
The former methodist chapel (1902), Station Road, now an antiques centre, has colourful glazed wall tiling in its foyer, along with unusual pierced ventilation tiles, all probably local products. Just over a mile west of the village is the eighteenth century mansion Trevor Hall, home of the claymaster J. C. Edwards and his family from the 1860s until his death in 1896. Edwards had been in the process of building a country house for his retirement in the valley to the south; it was completed in 1896 and is now the Bryn Howel Hotel (off the A539, three miles east of Llangollen). It was occupied by the Edwards family until the 1850s, but due to alterations during conversion, little of interest other than Edwards-made red brickwork, roof tiling and some terracotta tracery is visible externally as the original entrance has been hidden.
Right in the centre of Wrexham, in Rhosddu Road, is the Library and Arts Centre, whose external wall has been decorated since 2001 by the Millennium Mural, a nine metre by five metre work made in 1999-2000 under the direction of tile and mural maker Penny Hampson of Hebden Bridge. The mural was the result of a fifteen-month project which involved local artists working with 1,200 schoolchildren aged between three and eleven. Each child made a tile, contributing to the overall theme of ‘Wrexham Past and Present’; the tiles were dried and fired at the North East Wales Institute of Higher Education, and fixing was carried out by the Clitheroe Tile Company.
Out on Mold Road, north-west of the centre, is the North East Wales Institute of Higher Education campus, formerly Denbighshire Technical College. The entrance hall of the main building (1950-3) retains its original pattern-making wall tiling designed by Peggy Angus for Carter’s; the lay-out incorporates a six-tile red dragon group and two different tiles showing leeks, all by Angus.
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2.^ John Newman, Glamorgan Buildings of Wales (Penguin Books, London, 1995).
3.^ The Builder, vol 21, 21st November 1863.
4.^ Pauline Sargent, 'Painted tiles by William Burges', Antique Collector, 58 (1987) March, pp101-108.
5.^ J. Mordaunt Crook, ed., The strange genius of William Burges (National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, 1981).
6.^ Horatio Walter Lonsdale, 1844-1919: Architectural Artist, (Gallery Lingard, London, 1984).
7.^ Nigel M. Adams, 'Encaustic Tile Pavement, Blackfriars Priory, Cardiff', Glazed Expressions, (1986) 13, pp7-9.
8.^ John Edwards, 'Conserving Cardiff Castle', Journal of Architectural Conservation, 8 (2002) March, pp6-22.
9.^ Adam Kossowski: Murals and Paintings, (Armelle Press, London, 1990).
10.^ Gordon Biddle, Britain's Historic Railway Buildings: An Oxford Gazetteer of Structures and Sites (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2003).
11.^ Newman, Glamorgan (1995).
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13.^ Gwen Heeney, Brickworks (A & C Black, London, 2003).
14.^ Williamson Art Gallery and Museum, Della Robbia Pottery, Birkenhead, 1894-1906: An interim report (Metropolitan Borough of Wirral, Department of Leisure Services, Birkenhead, 1980).
15.^ David McLees, Castell Coch (Cadw, Cardiff, 1998).
16.^ Lynn Pearson, 'The 'Revelations' tiles of John Pollard Seddon at Sunningwell Church, Oxfordshire', Glazed Expressions, (2003) 48, p18.
17.^ Peter Howell and Ian Sutton, eds., The Faber Guide to Victorian Churches (Faber and Faber, London, 1989).
18.^ J. M. Lewis, The medieval tiles of Wales (National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, 1999).
19.^ David M. Robinson and Colin Platt, Strata Florida Abbey (CADW, Cardiff, 1998).
20.^ Lewis, Medieval tiles of Wales (1999).
21.^ Edward Hubbard, The Work of John Douglas (Victorian Society, London, 1991).
22.^ J. C. Edwards, Ruabon, Prices of Mediaeval Encaustic, Incised, and other Glazed and Unglazed Tiles, for Floors, etc. (1896); British Library YA.2002.a.12217.
23.^ The Builder, vol 68, 18th May 1895, p381.
24.^ For Buckley, Flint and Nannerch see Edward Hubbard, Clwyd (Penguin Books, London, 1994); for Halkyn see The Builder, vol 36, 16th November 1878; for Rhydymwyn see The Builder, vol 21, 24th October 1863.
25.^ Gordon Smith, A Century of Shotton Steel (1896-1996) (British Steel Strip Products, Shotton, 1996).
26.^ Lewis, Medieval tiles of Wales (1999).
27.^ Shropshire Archives, Shrewsbury, Maws Tiles 6001/4112, Tiling by Maw & Company Limited, 1906.
28.^ Alison Kelly, Mrs Coade's Stone (Self Publishing Association, Upton-upon-Severn, 1990).
29.^ Ned Heywood, 'New Ceramic Art', Glazed Expressions, (2004) 50, p11.
30.^ Dennis W. Hadley, James Powell & Sons: A listing of opus sectile, 1847-1973, (2001).
31.^ John Newman, Gwent/Monmouthshire Buildings of Wales (Penguin, London, 2000).
32.^ Newman, Gwent/Monmouthshire (2000).
33.^ Pearson, 'Sunningwell Church', 2003.
34.^ 'Waterloo Hotel', Licensing World & Licensed Trade Review, 10th December 1904, p421.
35.^ Wilhelm Joliet and Hans van Lemmen, 'Dutch Tiles with figures on horseback in Tredegar House, Wales', Glazed Expressions, (2003) 47, pp6-7.
36.^ Chris Cox, 'Chamberlain floor tiles at Slebech Church, Wales', Glazed Expressions, (1994) 28, pp9-11.
37.^ Thomas Lloyd, Julian Orbach and Robert Scourfield, Pembrokeshire Buildings of Wales (Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2004).
38.^ Chris Cox, 'The medieval tiles of Carew Cheriton Church, Pembrokeshire', Glazed Expressions, (1996) 32, pp6-7.
39.^ Margaret A. V. Gill, 'A survey of floor-tiles in the churches of Radnorshire: Parts I and II', Transactions of the Radnorshire Society, 72 (2002), pp26-83.
40.^ Margaret A. V. Gill, 'Victorian floor tiles from the parish churches of the Wye Valley Group', Transactions of the Radnorshire Society, 68 (1998), pp64-95.
41.^ Michael Stratton, The Terracotta Revival (Victor Gollancz, London, 1993), pp50-1.
42.^ Michael Darby, John Pollard Seddon Catalogues of Architectural Drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1983). Drawing D.943.96 (at 94.J.3, V&A Prints and Drawings Study Room) relating to Christ College Chapel shows a design for a tile arrangement including a group labelled ‘Seven lamps’.
43.^ Paul Atterbury and Clive Wainwright, Pugin: A Gothic Passion (Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1994), p58.
44.^ 'Newtown - heart of oak', Newsbasket, 68 (1975) 6, pp4-6.
45.^ Lewis, Medieval tiles of Wales (1999).
46.^ Jane Kent, 'Church Tiles at Old Radnor', Glazed Expressions, (1999) 39, pp8-9.
47.^ John Skinner, 'The Carlton Swansea: The Very Best Bookshop in Wales', Picture House, (2000) 25, pp27-34.
48.^ John Malam, 'Minton/Pugin Tiles at Chirk Castle, Clwyd', Glazed Expressions, (1993) 26, p3.
49.^ Andrew Connolly, Life in the Victorian brickyards of Flintshire and Denbighshire (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, Llanrwst, 2003).
50.^ Edward Hubbard, Clwyd Buildings of Wales (Penguin Books, London, 1994).
51.^ Derek Jones, 'St John the Evangelist Church, Rhosymedre, Clwyd and J. C. Edwards', Glazed Expressions, (1987) 14, pp7-8.
52.^ Penny Hampson, 'A Millennium Tile Mural at Wrexham', Glazed Expressions, (2000) 40, pp8-9.
53.^ Penny Hampson, 'Millennium Mural', Ceramic Review, (2001) 188, pp44-5.
54.^ Katie Arber, 'Peggy Angus, designer of modern tiles for a modern Britain', Decorative Arts Society Journal, 26 (2002), pp120-134.
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