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Poole in Dorset has been the home of Carter & Co, later Poole Pottery, since 1873. Although the original Poole Pottery factory was demolished in 2001, production continues elsewhere and many examples of the Pottery’s architectural output remain in situ throughout the county. In addition, the 2004 auction sale of the contents of the Poole Pottery Museum and Archive resulted in many items being acquired for Poole Museum Service. Other Dorset highlights include its wealth of medieval tiles, for instance at Milton Abbas and Shaftesbury, while Eleanor Coade’s house in Lyme Regis provided an excellent advertisement for her manufactory’s wares. From the Victorian period there are numerous instances of encaustic church pavements, including tiles designed by J. D. Sedding at St Clement’s Boscombe (Bournemouth), but Dorset also offers the best surviving example of an Owen Jones decorative scheme at Sutton Waldron Church, the architectural oddities of Purbeck House in Swanage, and unusual local terracotta at Child Okeford and Iwerne Minster. Carter’s provided lavish terracotta for one of the most unusual churches in the country, the early twentieth century St Osmund’s, Parkstone (Poole), and colourful faience beside the interwar seaside at San Remo Towers, Boscombe (Bournemouth). Interesting contemporary installations include the Waitrose mural at Dorchester. Suggested reading: Leslie Hayward, Poole Pottery (Richard Dennis, Shepton Beauchamp, 2002); Jennifer Hawkins, Poole Potteries (Barrie & Jenkins, London, 1980); A. B. Emden, Medieval Decorated Tiles in Dorset (Phillimore, Chichester, 1977); TACS Tour Notes Poole and Bournemouth (1985). The Gazetteer entry for Dorset covers the administrative areas of Bournemouth Borough Council, Dorset County Council and Poole Borough Council.


Part of a fourteenth century tile pavement was found in the south aisle of the church of St John the Baptist during its restoration by G. E. Street in 1874-5. Only one medieval patterned tile survives, but Street installed a superb Godwin encaustic pavement including four-tile groups whose motifs were copies of the armorial designs present in the medieval pavement. The 1875 tiles also feature copies of the large medieval tile showing three lions (the arms of England) found a few miles to the south at Bindon Abbey, although this design was apparently not originally present at Bere Regis.[1]


Bournemouth’s centre is The Square, where the town’s delightfully spacious gardens swoop down to meet its imposing shops, most noticeably the unusual curved facade of Debenham’s on the west side. The appearance of the store, which results from piecemeal development during 1900-20, is marred by a dreadful canopy which makes a mockery of the stylish Edwardian Baroque facade, its grey Carter’s ceramic marble set into red terracotta. Old Christchurch Road runs east of The Square, passing Dingles store, with an impressive interwar art deco Carter’s Ceramic Marble facade including coloured, vaguely Egyptianate motifs.

Just east of Dingles is St Peter’s Church, St Peter’s Road. This is a visual feast, with a wonderfully colourful interior where it seems almost every surface is  painted. This complex church was designed by G. E. Street and built during 1854-79, using the south aisle of the earlier church on the site as its basis. Pass through the crossing arch, covered by a Clayton and Bell fresco of 1873, and then the adjacent openwork stone arch (shades of Wells Cathedral), to reach the sanctuary and a reredos with mosaic panels dating from 1899; these replaced an earlier decorative scheme including tiles by William Morris. The original tiles were the first of only three church commissions for tilework obtained by Morris. Two east wall panels, showing processing angels, were designed by Morris himself, while four panels on the north and south walls were New Testament scenes by Burne-Jones. However, soon after their installation around 1866 the panels began to disintegrate, and they were removed in 1899.[2] The present mosaics, whose subjects - angelic wings to the fore - match the originals were designed by Arthur Blomfield and made by Powell & Sons; below the mosaics are red and white glass tiles, also by Powell’s. These tiles were made by crushing fragments of flint glass, contaminated by clay, and then fusing the resulting powder to create opaque glass; this material could then be shaped and used just as a normal ceramic tile, but one having only the tiniest clay content.[3] They were often used in the context of decorative schemes including glass mosaic and opus sectile work. There is, indeed, a multicoloured opus sectile panel at the east end of the north aisle wall. It shows Christ preaching and bears the inscription ‘In memory of Walter Scott Evans for more than 30 years churchwarden of this parish Jan 10th 1908’. The addition of gold mosaic makes this a lively panel, but there is no sign of its designer.

Leaving the churchyard, wherein lies the heart of Percy Shelley, further east is Joseph’s Terrace, 216-36 Old Christchurch Road, developed by Joseph Cutler around 1880, and still bearing (at 222-6) one and a half portraits of the bearded developer in painted circular panels on green glazed tile pilasters with floral ornament (Fig 43). These primitive but endearing images were probably produced by the Patent Architectural Pottery. Across the roundabout at the end of Old Christchurch Road rises the unlikely tower of The College (Lansdowne College), Christchurch Road. A floor mosaic outside its entrance carries the date 1910, while inside are extensive floor mosaics including a coat of arms. South-east of The College on Gervis Road is St Swithun’s Church, designed by Richard Norman Shaw and built in 1876-8 (chancel) and 1891 (nave). The east wall has a dado of Hispano-Moorish style cuenca tiles, one of Shaw’s favourite finishes because of their handmade look; they were probably made by Frederick Garrard.

West of St Swithun’s on the clifftop is the unlikely Scottish Baronial pile of the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, East Cliff, built in 1897-1907 (as East Cliff Hall) for Sir Merton and Lady Russell-Cotes as a house-cum-museum. The design was by the Irish engineer and architect John Frederick Fogerty, who practised in Bournemouth from 1893. Sir Merton, who became mayor of Bournemouth, owned the town’s Royal Bath Hotel; the interior decoration of East Cliff Hall was carried out by John Thomas and his son Oliver, who were responsible for decorating the hotel. A Japanese theme ran through both house and hotel, although the house also had a Moorish alcove (inspired by the Alhambra) and much decoration related to the family’s Scottish background. The ceramics include Maw & Co tiles in the porch (which dates from 1907), Persian tiles in several toilets and terracotta busts on the picture gallery (1918-19). The fireplace tiles in the study, decorated by Carter’s of Poole, allude to Sir Merton’s position in society, showing his monogram, a cockerel and the motto from his coat of arms. Out in the garden are edging tiles, urns and an eagle made by the South Western Pottery of Poole and illustrated in their 1878 catalogue. Modern commissions complement the historic ceramics: in the family gallery is a panel of fish tiles (1990) by Dorset designer-makers John Hinchcliffe and Wendy Barber, and in the adjacent café is a bold, abstract tile mural (1999) by Hinchcliffe on the theme of the sea.

Back in central Bournemouth and west of The Square, the superb Branksome Arms on Poole Hill, built around 1905, displays a brightly coloured tiled advertisement for Eldridge Pope’s Dorchester Ales in its porte cochere; the brewer’s arms lie within a green oval on a yellow ground, surrounded by ornate scrollwork (Fig 44). The pub’s main facade is an exuberant combination of green glazed brick with pale grey Carter’s ceramic marble dressings. Just south in West Hill Road is the Pembroke Arms, now the Goat and Tricycle, which was built about 1900 and designed by the Bournemouth architect C. T. Miles. Its pleasingly fishy green faience facade was produced by Carter’s for Marston’s Dolphin Brewery of Poole; note the beady-eyed fish on either pilaster[4]

On the northern edge of town in Castle Lane East is the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, where sixteen W. B. Simpson tile panels - originally installed at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Boscombe - may be found, mounted on the stairs. The panels, which date from 1910 and show nursey rhymes and fairy tales, were moved from the now-demolished hospital in 1993.


In Michelgrove Road, on the cliffs above Boscombe Pier and overlooking Boscombe Chine, is San Remo Towers (1935-8), a massive block of 164 flats designed by the American architect Hector O. Hamilton for Armstrong Estates of Guildford (Fig 45). The flats were intended to attract a superior type of clientele, their modern conveniences including central heating, an ‘auto vac’ cleaning system, a residents’ club and a restaurant. Hamilton created an aspirational exterior to match, the six entrances being emphasised by surrounds of candy-striped Carter’s faience in barley-sugar engaged columns. The five blocks were identified by faience lettering (A to E and the main entrance) and were partly faience tiled. This superlative piece of seaside architecture bears more relation to Miami’s colourful art deco hotels than to the white modernist houses which colonised the English coast during the 1930s. The flats were restored during 2000-2 using coloured faience mullions replicated by the terracotta and brick manufacturers Lamb’s of Billingshurst, West Sussex.

To the north is St Clement’s Church, St Clement’s Road, the first major church to be designed by the architect J. D. Sedding; it was largely built in 1871-3, the tower being added in 1890-3. Sedding’s decorative treatment included encaustic floor tiles showing an anchor motif within a large square pavement of patterned tiles; elaborate encaustic tiling runs throughout the nave, chancel and lady chapel. J. D. Sedding married the sister of the first vicar of St Clement’s, and designed three gravestones for the churchyard.


In the side aisles of St Katherine’s Church, Church Road is a series of nine-tile encaustic groups bearing an unusual catherine wheel motif in buff on red ground with yellow glaze; the tiles may have been manufactured by Carter’s. To the west at 128-44 Seabourne Road (just south of Pokesdown Station) is Julian Terrace, built around 1920 with much Carter’s buff terracotta and red faience ornament including two enormous rectangular cartouches bearing the terrace name. A little further south at 1-17 Fishermans Avenue is a row of two-storey houses dating from about 1900. The porches have elaborate glazed tile dadoes in the form of green or blue-grey panels with embossed art nouveau plants, all within a yellow and dark green border.


The former Grand Cinema (now Grand Bingo), Poole Road opened in 1922 and was designed by J. E. Hawker; the building also included four shops. Its grey Carter’s ceramic marble facade is topped by reclining figures each side of a central pediment. The cinema had a sliding roof which could be opened during intervals; it showed its final film in 1977. Close by, the house 5 Pine Tree Glen, dating from about 1880, is faced entirely with red floor tiles and bands of buff and black encaustic tiles. A buff panel on the east chimney stack bears a motif in green glazed tiles.


St Mary the Virgin Church was built in 1853-4 by Colonel William Petrie Waugh of Branksea Castle, who bought the island in 1852 hoping to exploit its resources of china clay. In the chancel are a few strips of single tiles, but in the room beneath the tower - a private family pew - is a superb fireplace, with Minton tiles also dating from the 1850s (Fig 46). It stands beneath a timber ceiling taken from Sir John Crosby’s house in the City of London, which was built in 1466; the ceiling was removed in the early nineteenth century and the house demolished around 1906. Adjoining the private pew is another private room containing a chest tomb supporting the recumbent effigy of a later owner of the island, Charles van Raalte. Altogether, this is a most unusual church in a most unusual situation.


The Herrison Hospital, just north of Charminster, was erected in 1859-63 as the Dorset County Asylum; its exterior was notable for strongly polychromatic brickwork. Several wards were added during 1870-80, and were kitted out with fifteen fireplaces decorated with series of Minton Hollins picture tiles. The extension known as Herrison House, dating from around 1904-14, has much decorative buff terracotta used in combination with red brickwork; the central part of this building was undergoing conversion to flats in 2002.


At Christchurch Priory, medieval encaustic tiles may be found in the north transept (beneath a wooden trap door against the north wall), and under the monumental Salisbury Chantry in the chancel, where one design is of a church with a central tower. Godwin’s supplied tiles for the Priory during nineteenth century restoration works. In the centre of town at Saxon Square, on the wall of the shopping development overlooking the roundabout, is the beautifully executed Saxon Warrior (1982) tile mural by the artist and potter David Ballantyne, made soon after his retirement from teaching at Bournemouth College of Art. His first architectural commission had been a tile mural at Oxford Railway Station (1974, demolished).[5]


Dorchester South Station, opened in 1986, was sponsored and built for British Rail by the local brewers Eldridge Pope & Co, whose ornate brewery may be seen from the train. On platform 1 is a hand-painted ‘Welcome to Dorchester’ tile panel, showing a town scene combined with the words ‘Home of Eldridge Pope & Co plc’; the panel, which has a semicircular top, is about four feet high by two feet wide and was made by Florian Tiles of Sturminster Newton. On the station’s exterior is a circular terracotta commemorative plaque, dated 1986. Nearby, at Eldridge Pope’s Dorchester Brewery (the Thomas Hardy Brewery since 1997), Weymouth Avenue, there is much attractive polychromatic brickwork, a green tiled plaque bearing the EP logo at the base of the chimney stack, some terracotta ornamentation and tiles in the segmental blanks above two windows. The Dorchester Brewery was largely built in 1880, although some of the associated buildings date from the mid-1880s and the brewhouse was rebuilt after a fire in 1922. The highly decorative nature of the brewery arose from Eldridge Pope’s decision to employ brewers’ architects Scamell & Colyer, known for their ornate structures, in combination with the Weymouth architect G. R. Crickmay, best known for his work on local churches.

In the centre of Dorchester there is a good late Victorian tile and faience butcher’s shop with an original interior at 14 High East Street, while the nearby Borough Arms has a tiled stall riser showing the words ‘J. Goldie Ltd’ (probably the pub’s owner rather than the brewer) in brown art nouveau style lettering on yellow ground. In the foyer of Dorchester Central Library, High West Street is an attractive ceramic mural of Old Dorchester, made by the pupils of St Mary’s School, Puddletown. Also in High West Street is St Peter’s Church, whose east wall bears a two-section opus sectile scene of the Nativity (1922). Still in the town centre, outside Waitrose is an unglazed ceramic mural depicting the history of the town; it was designed by John Hodgson and installed in 1986. It comprises five rectangular panels, each 46” by 64”, connected by a horizontal band of tiles just over eight yards in length; the colours are mainly cream and brown.


St Michael’s Church, Blandford Road was built in 1958-9 by Morley & Bolden of Poole. Inside this brick-built church is a colourful reredos in the form of a semicircular Carter’s panel showing a virile St Michael triumphing over a spectacular green dragon. It was probably designed by Harold and Phoebe Stabler, who were then much influenced by the Della Robbia style, expressed most strongly in the cherubs around the panel’s border. The Carter archives also suggest the presence of a panel in a niche above a doorway, showing ‘The Good Shepherd’.[6] Further along Blandford Road, near Poole Bridge, is Old Rope Walk, a 1905 almshouse-style development by Carter’s for their workers. Here the end cottage has a small triangular ceramic inset in its gable, showing a decorative cream ‘C’ with green scrollwork on a cream ground.


The nineteenth century terracotta reredos of St Mary’s Church was designed by Lady Baker and made in her own local pottery; its motifs include grapes, angels and a bust of Christ.


St James Church at Kingston on the Isle of Purbeck was designed by G. E. Street in 1873-4 and built during 1874-80 for John Scott, 3rd Earl of Eldon. It was part of a building programme devised by the Earl to keep his Encombe estate labourers in employment, and all materials were obtained from the Encombe quarries. Street called it his jolliest church, although its interior feels cool and monumental; there is an encaustic tile pavement.


Eleanor Coade took over the lease of Belmont (then Bunter’s Castle), Pound Street, from her uncle Samuel Coade in 1784, and used the house to put on a fine display of wares from her Artificial Stone Manufactory in Lambeth (Fig 47).[7] Both house and garden are ornamented with Coade stone, some pieces having designs not seen elsewhere, including dolphins and a crowned king (a keystone); the family crest, a coot, features on gate piers. The urns dotted along the parapet and the rest of the profuse decoration were all executed in Coade stone.

In the 1990s the stone-carver Philip Thomason of the Somerset firm Thomason Cudworth revived the manufacture of a Coade-type stone, using (amongst twelve ingredients) ball clay which may be the same as that used by Eleanor Coade. An ammonite public footpath in neo-Coade stone made by Thomason Cudworth was laid at the Lyme Regis Philpot Museum, Bridge Street around 2000.[8]


Sir George Gilbert Scott restored the church at Milton Abbey (founded around 935) in 1865. On removing the Portland stone paving (laid in 1789) from the chancel he found the remains of a medieval tile pavement, whose designs included birds, animals, and heraldic and geometrical devices in red and buff. Godwin’s were asked to reproduce the tile designs, and the substitute pavement was laid so as to resemble the medieval arrangement as far as possible, with new elements being added where necessary, although it is now impossible to tell new and old apart.[9] On a hill just to the east of the church is St Catherine’s Chapel, a Norman pilgrim chapel. Some of the medieval tiles displaced from the Abbey church in 1789 were laid in the chapel’s chancel, although they were relaid in 1901, with the addition of others found by Scott and initially relaid in the rood-screen gallery of the Abbey church. The chapel’s floor now comprises over 670 rather worn Wessex medieval patterned tiles, along with border tiles by Godwin’s. The medieval tiles date from the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries and have a greta variety of designs.


Until its demolition in 2001, the obvious place to begin a tour of Poole would have been Poole Pottery itself, sited on The Quay, beside the huge and dramatic expanse of the harbour. The site has now been occupied by the towering Dolphin Quays development comprising shops and flats, into which it is intended to incorporate some of the large-scale tile panels which originally decorated the Pottery. Of course, examples of Poole Pottery’s output remain on buildings throughout the town. To find them, head west along the quayside past the first of many local pubs with ceramic facades, the buff, brown and black glazed brick Jolly Sailor. The pub also has a good door canopy, in dark brown - almost lustrous - faience; two further ceramic panels may be hidden by later signage. Next is the entrancing Poole Arms whose facade, a massive emerald green faience gable end, shimmers in reflected light from the water opposite. Dark green dressings, a classical doorcase, a central panel with the pub’s name in gold lettering, and the town’s coat of arms - also a trademark of the local brewers, Marston’s - on yellow ground in a circular panel at the top of the gable make this a most memorable pub front. It is the work of Carter’s (later Poole Pottery), who showed the pub’s mosaic doorway panel in a catalogue dating from about 1908.[10]

A slight deviation away from the quayside is required to reach the Tourist Information Centre and Waterfront Museum, 4 High Street, where a Carter’s plaque of the town arms is topped by a voluptuous figure of mermaid, supposedly based on a shapely local lass who was a one-time ‘Miss World’ winner. Back on the Quay is the 1990 residential development Barber’s Wharf, with a charming series of pictorial tile panels strung out at low level along its frontage (Fig 48). Depicting local industries and activities, these well-produced panels deserve better than to be mounted only a few inches above the pavement. They were one of the last works of the artist and potter David Ballantyne (1913-90), who taught at Bournemouth College of Art between 1950 and his retirement in 1978, after which he undertook several commissions concerned with architecture and restoration.[11] At the Quay’s end is Poole Bridge (opened 1927), with  large, high relief Della Robbia ware panels proudly showing the town’s coat of arms on the outside of each of its four piers; all are signed ‘Carter, Stabler & Adams Ltd 1926’ (Fig 49).

 To explore the town itself, return to the Poole Pottery site and head inland along Old Orchard, passing the former Swan Inn (now a shop), rebuilt by the architect C. T. Miles of Bournemouth in 1906. The glazed brick facade is in lime and emerald green, with rich brown faience dressings and a green faience keystone - a rather startled dolphin - above the door. On the fascia two elegant tube-lined swans bear decorative swags in their beaks, and a panel reads ‘Marston’s Poole Ales’. The dolphin refers to Marston’s Dolphin Brewery, which stood nearby on Market Street. On the corner of Old Orchard and High Street is Peri Ice Cream shop, once Yeatman’s the florists, as suggested by two pretty tube-lined Carter’s panels of flowers in natural colours on black ground (Fig 50). The design of these six-inch tiles was by Reginald Till, and they were fixed on the Old Orchard facade in December 1949.[12]

Round the corner in Lower High Street is the Old Orchard office building (no public access); inside is a 1976 Carter’s tile panel showing the Old Orchard area around 1600; it was designed by the Jones Design Co-partnership. Continue northward through the pedestrianised area, soon reaching a well-preserved Dewhurst’s at 135 High Street, with at least eleven Carter’s pictorial four-tile panels from the pretty Farmyard series designed by E. E. Stickland around 1922; they were used in many Dewhurst shops until the 1960s. Just off the High Street in Lagland Street the former Norton Free Library (now Wetherspoon’s) has red terracotta decoration and a discreet tile plaque in buff and brown worded ‘These buildings were erected and presented to the Borough of Poole as a Free Library by John J. Norton Esq. Novr 19th 1887’. Inside, the pub’s decorative theme is Poole Pottery, with large photographic copies of the well-known Poole map tile panel of around 1930 (designed by Edward Bawden and painted by Margaret Holder) and several of the firm’s interwar advertisements displayed on the walls.

This endorsement of the value of local history is rather a contrast to the fate of an actual Carter’s tile panel at Poole Library, which can be found on the northern edge of the town centre in a typically sprawling Arndale Centre; this was designed in 1963-9 by architects W. Leslie Jones & Partners, and is now known as the Dolphin Shopping Centre. At first floor level inside the Centre is the Library, where - until refurbishment took place around 2002 - readers were greeted by a jolly full-height Carter’s tube-lined panel in black and white on pale blue depicting the architectural wonders of Poole (Fig 51). At the far end of the same floor is still a brightly coloured mosaic of similar size showing a breezy yachting scene; this is unsigned. The new-style Library is certainly more open and welcoming, but there seems no apparent reason why this little piece of the town’s history could not have been left on display rather than boarded over.
Heading out of town on Parkstone Road we find Parkstone Court, a small block of flats built in 1999 with a pleasingly detailed decorative terracotta roundel in its gable showing the date and a galleon. Well outside the town at the end of Parkstone Road stands the Municipal Buildings, now Civic Centre, designed by L. Magnus Austin working under the Borough Surveyor E. J. Goodacre in 1931-2. It has decorative Moderne stonework reliefs of local scenes, and a coat of arms in Carter’s faience above the main entrance. Just inside is a mosaic floor depicting the arms and an assortment of Poole landmarks.


Yaffle House in Water Tower Road was designed by the architect Edward Maufe in Spanish Mission style and built in 1930 for Charles Carter, managing director of Carter & Co until his retirement in 1928. Ceramic decoration on the semi-butterfly plan house include reliefs of a yaffle (a green woodpecker) on the balcony; the doorway has a black faience architrave which is dated and bears the initials of client and architect. The still-complete contemporary interior includes mosaics.


Just north of Parkstone station, across the main Bournemouth road, is St Peter’s Church, Parr Street. The chancel of this large, spire-less stone church was built by Frederick Rogers of London in 1876-7; John Loughborough Pearson consolidated the chancel in 1881, then added the nave and transepts in 1891-2; his son F. L. Pearson completed the church in 1900-1. Carter’s supplied and laid the tiled floors in 1877.[13]

Half a mile east along Bournemouth Road, at its junction with St Osmund’s Road, is the Church of St Osmund (Fig 53). The foundation stone of the church was laid in 1904, but it was 1916 before this most unusual structure was complete. Its Byzantine‑style design originated with a Parkstone architect, George Bligh Livesay, who had erected a temporary nave and aisles - based on the church of San Zeno, Verona - by July 1905. St Osmund’s was one of the last large churches to be built in this area, at a time when terracotta and faience were popular as facing materials, and Livesay’s design used Carter’s cream terracotta blocks with capitals and cornices in red.[14] A hiatus of several years followed this initial activity, and further building did not take place until 1913, by which time Livesay was unable to continue as architect. He may have already joined the army by then; he died at sea on the 29th May 1916. It fell to the architect E. S. Prior, in partnership with Arthur Grove, to complete the church, and it turned out to be Prior’s final work. He altered the external detailing, specifying thin, specially‑textured wire-cut bricks (hand-made at Newtown Vale Brickworks in Poole) and only a limited amount of buff terracotta work.[15]

The interior features fluted Ionic columns of red terracotta in the apse, with a low wall in cream terracotta, its coping wide enough to form a seat for the clergy. Behind the high altar is the bishop’s throne, made entirely of terracotta and supported by feet decorated with lion’s heads; an amazing white faience baldachino, partly gilded, soars above while twelve winged angel heads look on. The copper-roofed dome is of cast concrete within an octagonal brick shell; it was found to be unsafe in 1922 and its crown was rebuilt by Sidney Tugwell (1869‑1938) of Bournemouth, a leading arts and crafts architect in the area. There is much more red and cream terracotta in the nave, with many specials (one-off pieces) and hardly any standard mouldings; St Osmund’s was a major undertaking for Carter’s, who provided all the terracotta. This unforgettable and original church is also rich with mosaics and has excellent hand-made abstract stained glass by Prior. Sadly, the experimental nature of its construction, involving an unusually early use of reinforced concrete, resulted in structural problems leading to the closure of the church in 2001; it was declared redundant in the same year.

Turn south along St Osmund’s Road and left into Penn Hill Avenue to find (at its far end) 7-8 Bank Chambers, where the twin fishmonger’s and butcher’s shops behind the dark green and brown faience arcade are now one under the name Bankes Bistro; the unique tiled fish mural (signed Carter & Co Ltd, Poole) and lettering survive in good condition (Fig 52). The shop, originally Jenkins & Sons, was built in 1923 and designed by architects Lawson & Reynolds, while the delicately drawn fish panel, with its inevitable yachts, was designed and painted by James Radley Young. Even the lettering, advertising cooked meats and family butchers, on the butchery half of this double feature is unusual; the ‘A’ has what might be called a flying serif.


From Sandbanks a chain ferry runs across to South Haven Point (thence Swanage), while a smaller ferry crosses to Brownsea Island. Near the ferry terminal, at the junction with Panorama Road, a Carter’s ‘Welcome to Poole’ tube-lined tile panel survives in situ; it shows yachts in Poole harbour and a distant Brownsea Castle (Fig 54). These town panels, designed by Arthur Nickols in the 1950s, could originally be found on a number of Poole’s local approach roads, and were also made for Swanage and Wareham. Another is still to be found about three miles north-east along the coast, on Alum Promenade at the Poole-Bournemouth border.


Relaid medieval floor tiles remain in the Lady Chapel and the Chapel of St Mary le Bow at Sherborne Abbey. All surviving medieval tiles were removed from the choir during restoration by Carpenter & Slater in 1849-58, and exact replicas were made by Minton’s; the designs included a four-tile group showing herons fishing. Although some Minton tiling is extant, notably in the aisles where scattered tiles feature the Digby arms and initials, the choir pavement was replaced by Purbeck stone in 1963. The redundant tiles were destroyed or sold as tea pot stands.[16]


The interior of St Bartholomew’s Church (built in flint in 1847) was decorated by Owen Jones in pure Ecclesiological style; the surfaces were painted with abstract patterns (partly derived from Jones’s study of the Alhambra) in red, blues and gold. The scheme is probably the most important by Jones to survive. The chancel pavement is of Pugin-designed Minton encaustic tiles, and there are also Minton tiles around the font.


The Weymouth architect George R. Crickmay rebuilt Purbeck House (1875, now an hotel) in what might be called Dorset Baronial style for George Burt (1816-94), nephew and successor of the London contractor John Mowlem. Its position on the High Street brings the visitor into direct contact with its walls, which are partly faced with granite left over from Burt’s then-current construction project, the Albert Memorial. Also incorporated into this architectural emporium of a house are several terracotta plaques which originated at the Great Exhibition. The terrace has a pavement of Minton’s patterned encaustic tiles, deemed surplus to requirements at the Houses of Parliament, and the billiard room was built partly of terracotta tiles. In the garden, amongst an odd variety of structures salvaged from Mowlem’s London demolitions, is a temple erected after 1878; this has terracotta dragon finials and a floor of encaustic tiles removed from the House of Commons around 1880. Burt also built Swanage’s market hall (1892, now the Heritage Centre), which has a mosaic floor of broken tiles salvaged from from various London building works.


St Andrew’s is a medieval church full of interest, with a superb collection of carved sixteenth ­century bench ends as well as a fine rood screen and a seventeenth century Dutch pulpit. There are tile pavements in the north chapel, where hexagonal plain tiles form an interesting pattern, and in the chancel, where polychrome Minton encaustics were laid during restoration by the Rev. William Henry Turner around 1840. To the Rev. Turner the chancel also owes its north and south wall dado of what appears to be a diaper of moulded terracotta. The pattern is formed by repetition of a six-­petalled flower within a concave‑sided hexagon, surrounded by smaller convex‑sided triangles enclosing round‑lobed trefoils. The diaper appears to have been painted in green, blue, red and gold.

A possible attribution for this terracotta is suggested by similar work at St Stephen’s Church, Westminster. The British Archaeological Association held its first annual meeting at Canterbury in 1844, and the cathedral was examined by the architectural section, presided over by Robert Willis and with Benjamin Ferrey as an honorary secretary.[17] In 1845, Willis published his architectural account of the cathedral, drawing attention to the diaper stonework of what was considered to be the remains of St Dunstan’s shrine. He even used the diaper design as an illustration on the title page of the book.[18] Shortly after its publication, Ferrey designed St Stephen’s, Westminster and the Ecclesiologist reported that ‘the reredos is the reproduction of that beautiful diapering of the fragment of S. Dunstan’s shrine at Canterbury, executed in terra cotta by Mr. Minton’ and ‘richly picked out with gold and colours’.[19] The painted stone diaper is still to be seen at Canterbury and is closely similar to the terracotta at Trent. The terracotta on the east wall at St. Stephen’s has been painted white, but the design and measurements are the same. There seems to be no evidence to connect any of the Trent work with Ferrey, but he was the local diocesan architect from 1841.


Weymouth’s intricate network of back lanes has many reminders of the wealth of ceramics which once cheered the urban scene. Next to the railway station, on the corner of Ranelagh Road and Queen Street, is a former pub with rich red faience slabs to dado level, and two cornucopia panels plus another decorative floral panel, all in pale olive-green. The South West Tools shop in King Street, opposite the station, has a facade of green patterned tiles; turn into Park Street to see the remains of several small-scale glazed brick facades including that of the Duke of Albany, whose complete green glazed brick facade has survived intact. Divert east to the splendidly curving Esplanade for a glimpse of the Coade stone statue of George III, a regular visitor to Weymouth around the end of the eighteenth century. The monarch and accompanying lion and unicorn are all life-size, and the ensemble has been brightly painted since 1949. The original purpose of the statue, which was ordered in 1803 and made the following year, was to express the gratitude of the town for the king’s continued patronage. However, he ceased to visit the town in 1805, and the statue was eventually erected in 1809 to mark the fiftieth year of his reign.7

South into the maze of tiny alleys to find the green faience facade of the Wellington Arms, St Alban Street, its fascia covered over; at 22 St Alban Street there are yellow abstract floral pattern tiles below a shop window. Nearby at 10-12 Market Street are tile panels of yellow fleur-de-lys design on a green background, set below windows in first and second floor oriels; this attractive arrangement seems to be something of a local custom. Cross the Town Bridge, to the far side of the harbour, to see a repeat of this treatment at 12 Trinity Row, where there is a row of floral tiles beneath an oriel window. At Holy Trinity Church, Trinity Road, is a large Powell’s opus sectile reredos dating from 1920.[20] Then to Brewers Quay, Hope Square, originally the Hope Brewery of John Groves & Sons. Its imposing, well-fenestrated red brick Queen Anne facade dates from 1903-4 and was designed by Arthur Kinder & Son, a leading London firm of brewers’architects. The brewery was taken over by its near-neighbours, Devenish & Co, in 1960, but ceased brewing in 1985; the structure now functions as a shopping centre with associated heritage elements. To the right of the brewhouse, on a building which probably dates from the early 1960s (soon after the Devenish takeover), is a handsome full length framed tiled sign reading ‘Devenish’s Brewery’ in red sans serif lettering with a black shadow on yellow ground; this could well be the work of Carter’s.

West of the town centre on the Abbotsbury Road is St Paul’s Church; the encaustic tile pavement in the chancel dates from the construction of the church in 1893-6. Cross back to the north of the harbour to find Dorchester Road leading out of town from the far end of the Esplanade; the Royal Oak, on the east side, dates from around 1900 and has a green faience facade with good lettering. This Devenish pub was probably designed by George R. Crickmay & Son, who worked on several of the brewery’s houses as well as on Eldridge Pope’s Dorchester Brewery. St John’s Church (1850-4), on the same side of the road, has a Minton tiled sanctuary pavement.


St Andrew’s Church, Church Road was restored in 1855; there is an encaustic tiled chancel pavement.


The Church of St Laurence, Church Street has a Minton tiled chancel pavement.


The Minster, which was restored in 1855-7 by T. H. Wyatt, has an extensive Minton encaustic tile pavement in the choir and sanctuary. It features several unusual designs, including (at either side of the altar) circular tiles showing a fish beneath a feathered coronet, and a portcullis with single feather. The arrangement is articulated by bands of plain red and black tiles, and the sanctuary step riser carries a tiled biblical quotation. In addition, the sanctuary has a richly coloured tile and mosaic dado.

Dorset Roundup

St Nicholas Church, Abbotsbury has a patterned Victorian encaustic tiled pavement. There is a tiled inn sign for the former Five Bells in South Street, Bridport. In Castletown, Isle of Portland, the Portland Roads Hotel has a massive, partly striped gold and brown faience facade with high relief ornament, art nouveau touches and good Devenish lettering; the manufacturer was probably Burmantofts. Apart from its sixteenth century tower, St Mary’s Church, Chettle (which stands in the grounds of Chettle House) dates from 1849-50; there is an encaustic tile pavement in the chancel. A cottage in Hayward’s Lane, half a mile south-west of Child Okeford, is constructed entirely of terracotta made in a local pottery owned by Lady Baker. At East Lulworth, the exterior decoration of St Mary’s R. C. Church, built in the grounds of Lulworth Castle in 1786-7, includes nine Coade stone vases. The Minton tile pavement at St Andrew’s Church, Fontmell Magna was installed when the church was rebuilt in 1862-3.[21] The Britannia Inn at Fortuneswell on the Isle of Portland has a good (although overpainted) Eldridge Pope faience facade including lettering and brewer’s motifs. There is much encaustic tiling at St Thomas Church (1851-2), Melbury Abbas. The encaustic tile pavement at St Nicholas Church, Moreton includes symbols of the passion (a theme continued by the 1958 engraved glass). There are patches of rather worn late thirteenth century and fourteenth century floor tiles in Shaftesbury Abbey Church, and more in the site museum. The east wall on either side of the altar at Holy Trinity Church, Stourpaine is faced with late Victorian tiling. St John’s Church, Tolpuddle, has good 1850s Minton tiling. There is a Victorian encaustic tile pavement at St Mary’s Church, Turnworth. Down on the quayside at Wareham is a Carter’s map of the town by A. Lee; on the Railway Tavern, North Port (next to the railway station) is an interwar tile panel of a railway engine. There are Roman tiles in the external walls of the north transept and chancel (north side) at St Wite’s Church, Whitchurch Canonicorum.


1.^      A. B. Emden, Medieval decorated tiles in Dorset (Phillimore, London & Chichester, 1977), p34.
2.^      Richard Myers and Hilary Myers, William Morris Tiles - The tile designs of Morris and his Fellow-Workers (Richard Dennis, Shepton Beauchamp, 1996), pp71-3.
3.^      Philip and Dorothy Brown, 'Glass tiles', Glazed Expressions, (1994) 28, pp2-3.
4.^      Carter Archive, Poole Museum Service, 2D 16.
5.^      Mike Allen, ed. David Ballantyne: Creative Genius, (Highcliffe Castle, 2003).
6.^      Carter Archive, Poole Museum Service, 2D 27.
7.^      Alison Kelly, Mrs Coade's Stone (Self Publishing Association, Upton-upon-Severn, 1990), pp230-2.
8.^      Amicia De Moubray, 'The Secret Coade Unlocked', Country Life, 197 (2003), pp106-8.
9.^      Emden, Medieval decorated tiles in Dorset, pp24-7.
10.^    Leslie Hayward, Poole Pottery: Carter & Company and their successors, 1873-1995 1st ed, ed. Paul Atterbury (Richard Dennis Publications, Shepton Beauchamp, 1995), p20.
11.^    Peter Stoodley, 'David Ballantyne - Renaissance Man of Clay', Ceramic Review, (1991) 128, pp20-23.
12.^    Carter Archive, Poole Museum Service, 2C 14.
13.^    The Builder, 5th January 1878, vol 36.
14.^    Martin Hammond, 'Worth a Detour 6: St Osmund's Church, Parkstone, Poole, Dorset', Glazed Expressions, (1985) 11, pp10-11.
15.^    Martin Hammond, 'The Bricks and Brickmakers of St Osmund's Church, Parkstone, Poole, Dorset', British Brick Society Information, (2003) 92, pp21-4.
16.^    Emden, Medieval decorated tiles in Dorset, p31.
17.^    Archaeological Journal, 1846, 1, pp267-83.
18.^    Robert Willis, The Architectural History of Canterbury Cathedral (Longman, London, 1845).
19.^    Ecclesiologist, June 1850, 11 (ns 8), p115.
20.^    Dennis W. Hadley, James Powell & Sons: A listing of opus sectile, 1847-1973, (2001).
21.^    The Builder, 26th December 1863, vol 21.

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