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Kingston upon Thames

Kingston upon Thames

High up in the lofty atrium of the Bentall Centre, a massive shopping centre which opened in 1992 on Clarence Street, is the Bentall’s Clock, signalling the location of the Food Court. The clock, which features ceramic number markers in the form of edible items like cakes and fruit, was designed by the ceramicist Kate Malone; the number markers were made under her direction by Jola Spytkowska. Just east along Clarence Street is Pizza Hut with its colourful, pizza-themed ceramic mural designed by Scurr & Partners using mostly Portuguese commercially-manufactured tiles supplied and hand-cut by Paul J. Marks, a mosaics firm. Similar tilework was installed in about sixty British Pizza Hut branches from 1998 onward, with the standard format being varied to suit site requirements. On the right at the end of Clarence Street is Wheatfield Way, where there is a large, highly-textured external tile mural of local historic scenes, probably dating from the 1980s and made by the North Wales (now Shropshire) ceramicist and painter Maggie Humphry.



St Mary’s R. C. Church, Clapham Park Road, built in 1849-51 to the design of Pugin’s pupil, William Wardell, has extensive encaustic tiling, notably the Godwin pavement in the Lady Chapel (1883-6 by the architect J. F. Bentley, a parishioner) and tiles bearing the letters ‘G’ and ‘M’ in the St Gerard Majella Chapel (1910 by Bentley’s son, Osmund Bentley).


On the west side of Kennington Park, Kennington Park Road, is a buff Doulton terracotta column, the remains of a fountain made for an exhibition held in Kensington in 1869 and donated to the park in the same year by Sir Henry Doulton. It was designed by John Sparkes, head of the Lambeth School of Art, and the central shaft includes an early sculpture by George Tinworth, the Pilgrimage of Life.[1] The column was originally topped by a family group in medieval costume, also by Tinworth.


The expanding firm of Doulton & Watts moved its pottery works from Vauxhall to Lambeth High Street during 1826-8 and continued to grow, building two kilns in 1829-30 and larger kilns three years later. Properties were bought up around the factory to create room for growth and the end result, when Doulton’s production was at its height towards the end of the nineteenth century, was a Doulton estate extending over a quarter mile south from near the present Lambeth Bridge.[2] Increased demand for Doultonware and architectural terracotta and faience led to the construction of three ornate buildings, along with a 233’ tall Italianate chimney stack, in 1876-9. The two most striking structures (A and B blocks), completed by 1879 and designed by Doulton’s regular architects Waring & Nicholson in a rather Frenchified Gothic style, faced the Albert Embankment and included a large showroom and production facilities for sanitaryware and faience. Naturally they were showpieces for quantities of terracotta detailing designed by Wilkinson & Tarring, some of which had already been used on the firm’s profusely decorated Doultonware studios and showroom, a slightly smaller building (later known as Southbank House or Doulton House) put up in 1876-8 on the corner of Black Prince Road and Lambeth High Street.[3] It appears that Doulton’s used Waring & Nicholson for the more mundane factory structures while Robert Stark Wilkinson (1844-1936) and Frederick William Tarring (1847-1925) were responsible for the appearance of the showier buildings. The firm’s growth continued: five kilns jammed into a 35 metre square area operated, with shared chimneys, during 1890-1923, and a radically modern headquarters went up on the Embankment in 1939.[4] However, A and B blocks were demolished in 1952, along with the great stack, and the Lambeth Pottery closed in 1956; the headquarters building survived until 1978. Now, the last lonely remnant of Doulton’s presence in Lambeth is Doulton House (currently vacant), its decoration an excellent and early example of the use of Doultonware in an architectural context (Fig 171). Although it has lost its original balustraded parapet, it has retained the high-relief terracotta tympanum by George Tinworth over the canted corner entrance, which shows Henry Doulton and several of his artists including Hannah Barlow (and her cat Tommy) and Tinworth himself.

Near Doulton House at 39 Black Prince Road is the former Beaufoy Institute (1907, F. A. Powell), whose trustees included members of the Beaufoy and Doulton families. Its interior has much plain tilework and an unusual ceramic stair in rich brown glazed bricks, with an elegant curved handrail formed from specials; Doulton’s would seem the most likely manufacturer. It is possible the firm were experimenting with glazed bricks in an attempt to replicate the faience interiors produced by Burmantofts, although by 1907 demand for these was in decline.

Another Tinworth relief, a Crucifixion of 1888-9, can be seen inside St Mary’s Church (now the Museum of Garden History), Lambeth Palace Road, just to the north of Doulton House. The buff terracotta panel, on the north aisle wall, is the remaining central part from a war-damaged three-section reredos designed by J. O. Scott and erected by Sir Henry Doulton in memory of his wife Sarah (d1888). Two smaller Tinworth reliefs are in the south aisle: Christ among the Doctors and Christ Blessing the Little Children. In front of the church is the Coade stone tomb  of the Sealy family from 1800, including Coade’s partner John Sealy, while in the main churchyard is the Coade sarcophagus of William Bligh (1754-1817).

The chapel of Lambeth Palace, immediately north of the Museum of Garden History on Lambeth Palace Road, was built around 1214-25 and has one of only two major in situ medieval tile pavements in London (the other is at Westminster Abbey); it includes twenty different ‘Westminster’ floor tile designs, and the main part of the layout has a chevron pattern of alternating plain and decorated tiles.[5] Part of the pavement, which probably dates from the 1270s or 1280s, is visible beneath the restored stalls and screen.[6]

Further north along Lambeth Palace Road is St Thomas’s Hospital (1868-71, architect Henry Currey), which originally comprised seven brick pavilions on the riverside, although only the three southernmost and the Chapel remain. In the first floor Chapel is a large, three-panel figurative terracotta reredos modelled by George Tinworth and presented to the chapel in 1899 in memory of Sir Henry Doulton, who was a governor of the hospital; there is also a salmon-pink Doulton terracotta panel of Spring in the north aisle. Following war damage, the north end of the hospital was rebuilt from 1962, the second stage of the work being designed by architects Yorke, Rosenberg & Mardall and completed in 1969-76; their large ward block was clad in the practice’s trademark Shaws Twintiles. Around thirty early 1900s Doulton tile panels, designed by William Rowe and depicting nursery rhymes, originally formed part of the decoration of two of the old children’s wards. After their closure for rebuilding, most of the panels were eventually resited in the new hospital, along with a few panels of similar date from the Royal Waterloo Hospital for Children and Women; three may be found in the café by the main riverside entrance, and another two are mounted in the Central Hall, beneath the Chapel.

The former Royal Waterloo Hospital for Children and Women (1903-5, Waring & Nicholson) stands on Waterloo Road at the south end of Waterloo Bridge; the building now houses Schiller International University and is known as Royal Waterloo House (Fig 172). Its green Doultonware porch was donated by Henry Lewis Doulton, who had followed his father Henry Doulton as head of the firm, and the facade has much elaborate Doultonware ornament including lettering.

The massive Coade stone South Bank Lion at the east end of Westminster Bridge originally stood on the riverside parapet of Goding’s Lion Brewery (1836-7), demolished in 1949 during site clearance for the Festival of Britain. The lion, modelled in 1837 by the sculptor William Woodington (1806-93), was one of the last products of the Coade factory, which stood a little way to the north of the bridge; the Coade exhibition gallery opened at the east end of the bridge in 1799. The lion was initially relocated near Waterloo Station before being moved to Westminster Bridge in 1966. 


Streatham Hill Theatre (1928-9, W. G. R. Sprague & W. H. Barton, now used for bingo), 110 Streatham Hill, was the last theatre designed by Sprague and has a fine neoclassical Doulton Carraraware facade.

West Norwood

A chancel was added to St Luke’s Church (1822), Norwood High Street (at the junction with Knights Hill), in 1872-3 by G. E. Street, and the blind windows above its altar were filled in 1885 with four large memorial panels in Doulton’s new Vitreous Fresco ware painted by John McLennan to the designs of the architect J. F. Bentley and the artist William Christian Symons. This technique involved painting terracotta slabs in a wide range of colours which fired to a matt surface resembling fresco, and was intended for large figurative compositions in public buildings, especially churches.[7] The St Luke’s panels measure about 10’ high by 2’ 6” wide and show Christ and St George, both with an angel; above each pair is a small semicircular panel. The church has been subdivided and the memorial panels can now (improbably) be seen in an upper floor community room.

Close by the church is West Norwood Cemetery, off Norwood Road. On the far side of the cemetery, at the top of the hill and just beyond the crematorium, is the Tate family mausoleum, built around 1883 and designed by the architects George & Peto using bright orange-red Doulton terracotta blocks. The interior includes decorative terracotta blockwork, a frieze of red and white glass tiles, and an opus sectile figure of Christ. Just south of the Tate mausoleum, on the Doulton path, is the Doulton family mausoleum built in 1899 by George & Peto, who also designed Doulton’s country house at Ewhurst (see Surrey). This had just been completed when Sarah Doulton died in October 1888; Doulton then asked the architects to design a mausoleum for him on a similar scale to their earlier Tate mausoleum. The Doulton mausoleum is built from salmon-pink terracotta blocks and miniature bricks; the external low relief panels and other ornament were by the Doulton artist Mark Marshall (Fig 173). Other ceramic memorials in the cemetery include (on the east side) the Ibbotson tomb, a blue and buff Doultonware cross and slab dating from around 1904, and an ornate terracotta memorial of 1885 to James Baldwin Brown, minister of Brixton Independent Church; this is down the slope just north of the Tate mausoleum. North-west of the crematorium, downhill and off the path, is the monumental tomb of London draper Alexander Berens (d1858), designed by E. M. Barry with a double frieze of Minton tiles, one of them carrying the letter ‘B’ and a bear (the Berens rebus), the other an inscription (Fig 174).[8]

1.^         Miranda F. Goodby, 'George Tinworth: an Artist in Terracotta', Journal of the Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society, 3 (1990), pp15-21.
2.^         Desmond Eyles and Louise Irvine, The Doulton Lambeth Wares (Richard Dennis, Shepton Beauchamp, 2002).
3.^         The Builder, vol 34, 9th December 1876, pp1192, 1195; The Builder, vol 37, 2nd August 1879, pp856, 859.
4.^         Kieron Tyler, 'Doulton in Lambeth', Archaeology Matters, 18th July 2002.
5.^         Susan Degnan and Derek Seeley, 'Medieval and later floor tiles in Lambeth Palace Chapel', London Archaeologist, 6 (1988) Winter, pp11-18.
6.^         Ian M. Betts, Medieval 'Westminster' floor tiles (MoLAS Monograph 11) (Museum of London, London, 2002), p24.
7.^         Paul Atterbury and Louise Irvine, The Doulton Story (Royal Doulton Tableware, Stoke on Trent, 1979).
8.^         The Builder, vol 16, 20th November 1858, pp778-9.

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