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Although the manufacture of tiles was well established in Lincolnshire by the early fourteenth century, only a few examples of medieval tiles survive in situ, for instance at Thornton Abbey and Frampton Church. From the early nineteenth century the county offers the sad remnant of the massive Coade stone statue of George III which once topped a land lighthouse, but is now to be found in the grounds of Lincoln Castle. Indeed it is the Victorian restoration and rebuilding of churches which provides much of Lincolnshire’s ceramic interest, in the form of encaustic pavements and other decoration. In the Diocese of Lincoln, about £600,000 was spent on church restoration during 1840-74, with a huge increase in the number of restorations from the late 1850s, and in the same period over £230,000 was spent by the diocese on the construction of new churches.[1] James Fowler of Louth was one of the locally-based architects most involved in this work, his commissions often including the installation of encaustic pavements, as did those of the rather less prolific Edward Browning of Stamford, who was probably responsible for the excellent early Minton pavement at St Martin’s Church, Stamford.

Terracotta was produced in Lincolnshire by John Blashfield, who transferred his architectural terracotta works from London to Stamford in 1859 to be nearer the clay beds. A wide range of wares was made and the firm was active until 1875, but the best remaining Blashfield work is outside the county rather than within, at Castle Ashby (Northamptonshire) and Dulwich College, London. The architect William Watkins of Lincoln made much use of terracotta from the mid-1880s, but had to obtain his supplies from a variety of non-local sources. In the domestic context, the use of porch tiles was widespread in turn-of-the-century Cleethorpes and Lincoln. Aside from the occasional interwar cinema and shop, the use of architectural ceramics in Lincolnshire petered out almost completely in the early twentieth century; even in modern times there is hardly anything of note apart from the large terracotta plaque above the entrance to Lincoln Magistrates’ Court (1990). Public ceramic artworks do not appear to have seeped into the county from neighbouring Leicestershire. Suggested reading: David Kaye and Sam Scorer, Fowler of Louth (LNALS, 1992); The Victorian Facade: W. Watkins and Son, Architects, Lincoln 1859-1918 (Lincolnshire College of Art & Design, Lincoln, 1990). The Gazetteer entry for Lincolnestershire covers the administrative areas of  Lincolnshire County Council, North East Lincolnshire Council and North Lincolnshire Council.


The red brick, neo-Norman former Church of St John Baptist was built in 1867 and designed by Edward Browning (1816-82), who succeeded to the Stamford architectural practice of his father Bryan Browning (1773-1856). Edward Browning’s youger brother Henry Bailey Browning (1822-1907) worked in the office briefly before being ordained in 1851; he held the living of St George’s with St Paul’s in Stamford from 1862 until 1890.[2] Amongst his other works, Edward Browning built, rebuilt and altered around sixteen Lincolnshire churches, and at Amber Hill experimented with decorative brickwork and terracotta. The porch has terracotta capitals while the interior is of yellow brick with a red brick dado and black brick band; the chancel arch has a small amount of terracotta decoration. The manufacturer of the terracotta is not known, but could well have been John Blashfield, whose works in Stamford opened to a welter of publicity in 1859 and supplied the terracotta for the massive, lettered balustrade at Castle Ashby, Northamptonshire around 1867, when the Amber Hill church was under construction. Blashfield specialised in the intricate design of terracotta, with undercutting and applied detailing, so it is possible that the deeply moulded terracotta at Amber Hill was his work. As well as the terracotta detailing, St John Baptist also has a high-level fleur-de-lys tile frieze in the chancel and a majolica tile reredos. As the church is now a private house, there is no public access.


All Saints Church was restored in 1878 by the architect James Fowler (1828-92) of Louth, the most prolific church architect of the time in the north of the county. His work at Bigby included the installation of a Minton tile pavement in the chancel, along with terracotta floral reliefs on the east wall.


The Church of St John the Baptist (1856-7, now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust), High Street, was designed by the London architect Samuel Sanders Teulon who obtained a series of commissions for church building and restoration in Lincolnshire, possibly because of his low churchmanship.[3] Burringham’s interior is typical Teulon in its unremitting polychromy; yellow brick walls have red and black brick patterning, there is a colourful encaustic tiled floor and even the octagonal font is decorated with blue and yellow encaustics. The church was a close precursor of Teulon’s better-known St Mark’s Church (1860-2), Silvertown, Newham, east London, in which the architect combined polychromatic brickwork with hollow grey terracotta ‘bricks’ in an aggressive display of architectural imagination.


The growth of Cleethorpes as a seaside resort was boosted by the arrival of the railway in 1863, and the town enjoyed a boom towards the end of the nineteenth century and into the early years of the twentieth. Decoration of houses built in this period was correspondingly lavish, and there are porch tiles throughout the central area, for instance in St Peter’s Avenue and Isaacs Hill; further south, the pseudo-half timbered Tudor Terrace in Bradford Avenue provides another good example. In addition, on Isaacs Hill, near the station, there are also larger houses which combine porch tiling with plaster reliefs above. Of course, some porch tiles are now hidden behind outer doors, whilst others have been painted over or removed, but many are still easily visible; there is a good variety of designs in this pleasant little town of tiles, albeit no picture panels. Also popular in Cleethorpes were tile pavements in porches and extending into hallways, and black and white geometric tiled pathways to front gates.

Other highlights in the town centre include Gresham’s Fisheries, High Street, with its full height ‘Fresh Fish Daily’ exterior tile panel; the replacement stall riser of 1992 by Wilton Studios shows a Grimsby scene featuring the famous Dock Tower. South in Oxford Street is the former Co-op with greyish faience detailing, centred on a beehive, high up on the canted corner. Turning back towards the sea, the substantial Queens pub on Cambridge Street and Seaview Street has a good interwar white faience facade; its side garage entrance has excellent detailing of bunches of grapes.


At St Andrew’s Church is an unusual tiled wall memorial dating from about 1910 and made by Jones & Willis of London. The matt glazed tiles are cream in colour and carry red gothic-style lettering; the surround is of opaque glass in various colours. A very similar memorial, by the same firm but dating from 1920, may be seen at Selby Abbey, North Yorkshire.


St Peter’s Church was mostly rebuilt in 1874-6 (architect R. H. Carpenter), the new chancel having a good encaustic pavement. The works were largely paid for by the Marquess of Ripon from nearby Nocton Hall, itself rebuilt in 1841 following a fire. Sir Francis Dashwood of High Wycombe had been a visitor to the original house, having married the widow of Sir Richard Ellis of Nocton in 1745. In the mid-eighteenth century Nocton Heath was so difficult for travellers to cross that Sir Francis had a huge column erected in 1751, on which was placed a lantern; this land lighthouse, over 100 feet in height, was known as the Dunston Pillar, and its remains still stand on the A15 about four miles west of Dunston (six miles south-east of Lincoln). The light was lit for the last time in 1808, and the lantern fell from the pillar during a storm in 1809. It was replaced the following year by an almost three-times life-size Coade stone figure of George III, modelled by Joseph Panzetta and given by the Duke of Buckingham to mark the King’s golden jubilee. During the Second World War the statue was removed and the column shortened, the statue breaking into fragments which found their way to Lincoln Castle. The head and shoulders of this enormous piece of Coade statuary, perhaps one of the largest ever made, have been reconstructed and are now on display in the Castle grounds.[4]


There are decorated medieval tiles on the floor of the south aisle chapel of the parish church, St Mary’s Church. Just over a mile to the west is St Michael’s Church, built in 1863 as a private chapel for the Tunnards of Frampton House. The architect was James Fowler, whose work included the design of the Minton-tiled sanctuary.[5]


St John Baptist Church was mostly rebuilt in 1860-1 by James Fowler. The strongly polychromatic interior has lozenge-shaped panels of colourful encaustic tiles in the spandrels along either side of the nave arcade; above are strings of tiles bearing texts. The pulpit comes in for its share of decorative motifs, with more tiled lozenges set into its brick base, and there is an ornate encaustic pavement in the sanctuary. Most lavish of all is the opus sectile reredos of the Last Supper, from a new cartoon by Frank Mann, which was supplied by Powell’s in 1889; its richness of colour is enhanced by mosaic side panels in gold and turquoise.


In the centre of Grimsby is the Freshney Place shopping centre, where the backdrop to Boaters Tea Garden is provided by a large tile mural of Grimsby including the town’s coat of arms, the inescapable Dock Tower and a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. The mural, which was designed by J. N. Freear, was installed in 1977 to mark the Queen’s silver jubilee. Outside in Victoria Street is the former Savoy Cinema (now McDonalds), built in 1920 for Savoy Picture House Ltd and designed by Chadwick & Watson. Its neo-classical white faience facade is topped on the curving corner by a figure of a female dancer.

Away from the main shopping area in Victoria Street North is something of an oddity, the pretty tiled wall of a car park belonging to the Palace Buffet public house, in the lee of the huge Victoria Flour Mills. This unexpected full-height wall tiling, in mainly browns and pale greens with classical motifs, turns out to be the remains of the Palace Theatre, built in 1904 and mostly demolished in 1979. In Freeman Street, east of and running parallel to Victoria Street North, is the ABC Cinema sporting a tall 1960s abstract tile mural. Although the colours - mauves, browns - are not bright, the overall effect is quite striking. The tiles were probably made by Malkin Tiles or H. & R. Johnson, who worked together during the 1960s and produced this type of geometric relief design.


To explore Lincoln, begin at 358 High Street, towards the south end of this long thoroughfare, with the Magistrates’ Court (1990). Stationed above the entrance on the front of this low-rise, buff brick building is a large, circular red terracotta plaque of the British coat of arms. Further along the High Street is the terracotta territory of local architect William Watkins (1834-1926), ‘the father of Lincoln architects’. He was attracted to terracotta as a building material in the mid-1880s, and used it with brio on the renaissance facade of the former Peacock & Willson’s Bank (1897) at 190-1 High Street.[6] Watkins produced sixty to seventy drawings of the detailing alone for  Doulton’s, who supplied the distinctive salmon-pink terracotta from their Lambeth works. It was the first use of terracotta on a public building in Lincoln. The ground floor had been altered, but this part of the facade was reinstated during 1993 using Hathernware products.[7] Close by is another Watkins building, the former Brown and Hewitt shop at 185-6 High Street, the tallest building in the street when it was put up in 1900. In this case the flamboyant buff terracotta was supplied by the Hathern Station Brick & Terra Cotta Company.

Onwards up Steep Hill to reach the Cathedral, where two small panels of encaustic floor tiles in the sanctuary, beside the high altar, date from 1857-8 and were probably made by Maw & Co. Just west of the Cathedral is Lincoln Castle, where the remains of a massive Coade stone statue of George III (1810) may be seen in the grounds. The fifteen-foot high statue originally topped the Dunston Pillar, a land lighthouse erected in 1751 six miles to the south-east of Lincoln (for details see entry for Dunston). Return towards the centre of Lincoln, taking Greestone Place, near the east end of Minster Yard, and descending into Lindum Road to see the first major essay in terracotta by William Watkins, the Girls’ High School (1893, extended 1911), now part of Lincolnshire College of Art & Design; its blast of red Ruabon terracotta dominates the hillside below the Cathedral. There is a whole range of small-scale detailing including dolphins and flaming torches. Continue south into Broadgate to see more of Watkins in the form of his domed Constitutional Club (1895), on the corner of Silver Street, where he combined bright red terracotta (supplied by J. C. Edwards of Ruabon and mentioned in the firm’s 1903 catalogue) with much Tudor-style rubbed brick. Watkins moved on to experiment with the fashionable, paler coloured terracottas in his later High Street buildings, just west of Broadgate.

Finally, away from the centre in the Mount Street area, developed when the city was undergoing a period of growth in late Victorian and Edwardian times, are more than sixty examples of tiled porches, some with full-height tiling. Mount Street itself comprises a row of thirty-six terraced houses which all have different porch tiling, some with individual art nouveau motifs and others with complex arrangements including up to sixteen different tiles.[8]


The Maw & Co floor tiling in the south porch of St James Church was installed by the architect James Fowler during his restorations of 1860 and 1868-9, as were the superb Minton tiles in the chancel and sanctuary pavements. There is good tiling in the Church of St Michael and All Angels (1863), Church Street, which was also designed by Fowler; the interior is polychromatic brickwork.


In the tower of St Lawrence Church is a panel (about 4’ by 6’) of thirteenth century tiles made up from those found during excavations at the Cistercian foundation of Revesby Abbey, about half a mile south of the church. The black, green and light brown tiles, which came from the cloister and south choir aisle, are set in bands of star forms. The extensive mosaic pavements of the Abbey had ten different layouts in long panels.


The Bishop of Lincoln, Dr John Kaye, became rector of St Mary’s Church in 1847 and rebuilt the little church during 1850-1. His chosen architect was S. S. Teulon, who produced a design on strictly Ecclesiological principles; the proposed tower and spire were never built. The nave is paved with red and black Broseley tiles forming triangular patterns, while the chancel is much more decorative, with an elaborate Minton encaustic tiled pavement; the tiled risers bear inscriptions.[9]


So impressive is the white faience facade of the former Savoy Cinema (1937, now bingo), Sheepmarket, that it could almost pass muster for an Odeon. The cinema was built for the Spalding Picture House Company by the Nottingham architect Alfred J. Thraves, who used faience supplied by Hathern in his design which features a series of almost full-height green fins.[10] Thraves also specified Hathernware in his design for the Regal Cinema (1937), Boston, which was demolished in 2002.


Begin at the centre of Stamford, Red Lion Square. On the north side, and facing away towards All Saints Place, is medieval All Saints Church, restored in 1857 by Edward Browning, who added the Minton encaustic tile pavement in the sanctuary. Scotgate runs north-west from the church, and at number five is the Scotgate public house (known disgustingly in 2002 as Doctor Thirstys). The red brick facade dates from 1871 and is topped by a splendid grey terracotta parapet bearing the lettering ‘P & R. Phipps. Brewers.’; above is a magnificent crest, a tiny castle with two supporting lions, the Phipps trademark (Fig 138). There is other terracotta (as well as stone) detailing. The brewers were based in Northampton, about 30 miles to the south-west, and perhaps felt they had to stump up for such a striking facade in order to compete with the local brewers, one of whom brewed close by in All Saints Street, while another (a potential source of loss-making confusion) was Phillips Stamford Brewery, based near the river in Water Street.

The Scotgate’s terracotta was supplied locally, by John Marriott Blashfield, a London tilemaker who was making architectural terracotta at Millwall by the end of 1851. He transferred production to Stamford in 1859 to be nearer the clay beds, and made a range of wares from classical ornaments to architectural dressings. Blashfield liked to create unusual forms in terracotta, and also employed major sculptors; he ceased production in 1875. The major Blashfield sites of Dulwich College (London) and Castle Ashby (Northamptonshire) apart, surprisingly little evidence of his terracotta remains extant, even in Stamford, where the Scotgate is one of only two minor locations. To see the other, head back across Red Lion Square and into the High Street; at number thirty, on the north side, is the strange 1873 frontage of a shop (currently Cottage Frames), mostly of brick and stone but including five red terracotta panels amongst its detailing. For Blashfield enthusiasts, this is really rather disappointing.

Turn south towards the river Welland, eventually crossing the Town Bridge at the foot of St Mary’s Hill and continuing up into High Street St Martin’s. On the left is St Martin’s Church, which - apart from its many monuments to the Cecils of nearby Burghley House - has a superb early Minton encaustic tile pavement running throughout the chancel. The overall design focuses on a six-feet long tile cross sited just in front of the altar; the cross is made up from buff and brown specials, but the tiles in the rest of this exquisite pavement come direct from Minton’s First Printed Catalogue of 1842. Around the cross are a number of four-tile groups, with the ‘rose window’ design, number 21 in the Catalogue, featuring heavily. In the centre of the choir is a series of nine-tile groups, mostly made up from three different tile designs, but with a more complex asymmetric group needing five separate tiles. At least twenty-four designs from the Catalogue are used, along with various border tiles and the specials.[11]

Pevsner suggests that the probable date of the St Martin’s pavement is 1865, but given that Edward Browning designed fittings for the church in 1845, soon after the Catalogue became available, the latter date would seem much more likely.[12] In 1845 such tiles would have been seen as suitable for an important church, as well as being fashionable; a date of 1865 would have provided a much broader choice of design and manufacturer. This may even have been the first time that Browning, who eventually became an enthusiastic user of encaustic tiles, specified a tile pavement. Also to be seen at St Martin’s, on the north wall of the nave, is an unusual ceramic plaque, a wall memorial to Thomas Cooper Goodrich (d1885), ‘A Rare Cricketer and a Good Man’.

Further along High Street St Martin’s is Stamford High School for Girls (1876, architect Edward Browning) with an encaustic-tiled entrance hall, possibly by the Campbell Brick & Tile Company.


The chancel of St Mary’s Church was rebuilt in 1861-2 by Edward Browning, who installed its pavement of Maw’s encaustic tiles.[13] James Fowler, who restored the chancel in 1879, probably added the brightly colourful wall tiling and the fine tile and mosaic reredos.


On the north side of the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church is the sandstone tombstone of Frances Dryland (d1872), the wife of William Turner. Set into it is an inlaid quatrefoil-shaped ceramic plaque in red, buff, white and blue, with a central motif of the Pascal Lamb.


Thornton Abbey (EH) was founded as a priory in 1139 for Augustinian canons; it was raised to the status of an abbey in 1148. Beyond the vast, fourteenth-century gatehouse lie the remains of the church and the monastic quarters. The refectory was in the south range, which was built in 1326-8; its undercroft retains an area measuring about 3’ by 4’ of much-broken rhombic tiles with eleven recognisable designs. The rhombic shape was unpopular with medieval tilers as tiles of other shapes were required in order to form arrangements other than herringbone or chequerwork, and their production ceased during the 1340s.[14]


St Martin’s Church was mostly rebuilt in 1861 by James Fowler. The work was funded by the Haigh family of Yorkshire mill owners, who moved into now-demolished Grainsby Hall, a mile or so to the south, during the 1840s. The result of their generosity was a richly decorative interior, including a Minton fleur-de-lys relief tiled dado in the chancel, which also has an elaborate encaustic pavement. Lozenge-shaped memorial tablets in the apse record Haigh family burials in the vault beneath the chancel. The church is now in a poor state of repair and has been closed to worship for some time. 


The restoration of St Andrew’s Church in 1874-7 was one of the later works of William Butterfield; his refit of the interior emphasised colour, with much tiling and an especially ornate mosaic reredos.

Lincolnshire Roundup
There is good tile and mosaic work of 1867 in the chancel of St Stephen’s Church, Careby. The Church of St Lawrence and Bishop Edward King (the dedication dates from 1960), Dalby was rebuilt by James Fowler in 1862; the interior is typical Fowler polychromatic brickwork with a tiled reredos. The Church of St Cornelius, Linwood has interesting majolica and encaustic east wall tiling, the scheme including lettering beneath symbols of the evangelists. St Helen’s Church, Little Cawthorpe (now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust), built in 1860 by the London architect R. J. Withers, has an encaustic tiled reredos. James Fowler’s 1862 work at St Thomas, Market Rasen included the installation of a Minton reredos with roundels of the evangelists. All Saints Church, Snelland, restored and rebuilt by Edward Browning in 1862-3, has a good tile pavement throughout. At St Hilary’s Church (1875), Spridlington is a gothic-lettered six-tile wall memorial dating from about 1920; there is also an encaustic tile pavement in the sanctuary.

In addition, the following churches have encaustic tile pavements: St Peter and St Paul, Algarkirk; St Peter and St Paul, Caistor; St Mary and the Holy Rood, Donington; All Saints, Friskney; St Peter, Great Limber; St Stephen, Hatton (also reredos); St Andrew, Heckington; St Luke, Holbeach Hurn; All Saints, Holton Beckering (also excellent mosaic reredos); Holy Trinity, Horncastle; St Mary, Long Sutton (Minton); St John the Baptist, Nettleton; All Saints, Nocton; St Mary, Old Leake (also reredos); St Mary, Pinchbeck; St Lawrence, Sedgebrook; St Botolph, Skidbrooke (in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust); St Michael, South Hykeham (east wall only); St Martin, Stubton.


1.^         Chris Miele, 'Their interest and habit': professionalism and the restoration of medieval churches, 1837-77, in The Victorian Church, eds Chris Brooks and Andrew Saint, (Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1995), pp151-172.
2.^         Howard Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840 3rd ed (Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1995), p172.
3.^         Anthony Symondson, Theology, worship and the late Victorian church, in The Victorian Church: Architecture and Society, eds Chris Brooks and Andrew Saint, (Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1995), pp192-222, see p199.
4.^         David Start, 'Dunston Pillar', Lincolnshire Past & Present, (2003) 52, pp10-11.
5.^         David Kaye, Sam Scorer and David N. Robinson, Fowler of Louth: The Life and Works of James Fowler, Louth Architect 1828-1892 (Louth Naturalists', Antiquarian and Literary Society, Louth, 1992).
6.^         Michael Stratton, William Watkins and the Terracotta Revival, in The Victorian Facade: W. Watkins and Son, Architects, Lincoln, 1859-1918, (Lincolnshire College of Art & Design, Lincoln, 1990), pp24-28.
7.^         Paul McAuley, Terracotta Facades in Lincoln, in Architectural Ceramics: their history, manufacture and conservation, ed Jeanne Marie Teutonico, (James & James (Science Publishers) Ltd, London, 1996), pp122-7.
8.^         Ian Bayne, 'Tiled Porches in Lincoln', Glazed Expressions, (1997) 34, pp6-7.
9.^         The Builder, vol 9, 23rd August 1851, p534.
10.^       Kevin Wheelan, The History of the Hathern Station Brick & Terra Cotta Company (Mercia Cinema Society, Birmingham, 1982).
11.^       The tile designs used in the pavement of St Martin's Church, Stamford are numbers 1, 9, 12, 20-1, 31, 35, 51-2, 54, 61, 63-5, 67-75 and 81 from Minton's First Printed Catalogue of 1842.
12.^       Nikolaus Pevsner, John Harris and Nicholas Antram, Lincolnshire 2nd ed. Buildings of England (Penguin, London, 1989), p692.
13.^       The Builder, vol 20, 6th September 1862.
14.^       G. K. Beaulah, 'Tiles of rhombic shape at Thornton Abbey, with notes on some others', TACS Journal, 1 (1982), pp23-27.

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