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Norfolk’s most significant contribution to the history of architectural ceramics was made during the early sixteenth century, when the fashion for Italian-style terracotta resulted in the construction of the Ferrers monument at Wymondham (which Henry Cole visited prior to the construction of the seminal South Kensington Museum), the Jannys tomb in Norwich, the Berney monument at Bracon Ash and the extraordinary Bedingfield monuments at Oxborough. There is also a group of early sixteenth century north-west Norfolk halls - Denver, East Barsham, Great Cressingham, Great Snoring and Wallington - sporting terracotta decoration with gothic or renaissance motifs. This was a short-lived and expensive fad, and Norfolk displays its built consequences better than any other English county. Norwich was also briefly home to the Antwerp potters Jasper Andries and Jacob Jansen during 1567-70. They produced colourful tin-glazed floor tiles (none survive in situ) before Jansen established his works at Aldgate in London.

The home-grown firm Gunton’s carried on the county’s association with baked clay, manufacturing Cosseyware on the outskirts of Norwich from 1827; the idiosyncratic local architect George Skipper used this material, along with a variety of other architectural ceramics, in several of his turn-of-the-century Norwich buildings. Pugin worked in Norfolk, some of his best tiles now being marooned at West Tofts Church in the Army’s Stanford Training Area; in addition there is the curious tale of the Pugin chantry which moved from West Tofts to Santon.

A very unusual sequence of late nineteenth to early twentieth century memorial tiles can be found at Southery, in the far west of this large and varied county, and there is a connection here with the similar memorial tiles at Brightlingsea, Essex. Rather different is Great Yarmouth’s seafront, a ceramic showpiece where excellent early twentieth century buildings show faience being used innovatively by local architects. There is little of any note to report in Norfolk from the late twentieth century apart from the visually disappointing County Hall, Norwich (1966-8), which is partly faced in traditional Hathernware faience slabs. Suggested reading: TACS Tour Notes Norwich & Norfolk (1991). The Gazetteer entry for Norfolk covers the administrative area of Norfolk County Council.


The doorway of the Berney Mausoleum at St Nicholas Church is surrounded by part of the front of an early renaissance style terracotta monument dating from around 1525. It was very probably executed by the same local craftsmen who worked on the terracotta tombchests of the Bedingfield Chapel, Oxborough, the fashionable material having sprung into brief and brilliant prominence in Norfolk by way of its use at Hampton Court and Layer Marney Tower in Essex.


In the upper part of the archway leading into the Norman keep of Castle Rising (EH) is a panel of attractive medieval tiles made at the Bawsey kiln, a few miles south of the castle. The relief and counter-relief tiles were inserted in the archway in the mid-Victorian period. Nearby, on the east range of Trinity Hospital almshouses (1609-15) is a terracotta lion plaque.


Much-restored East Barsham Hall is a red brick manor house built in the 1520s, almost certainly by Sir Henry Fermor. In addition to lavish renaissance style brick detailing, the terracotta decoration on its multiplicity of chimney shafts includes fleurs-de-lys and diapers, while the detached gatehouse has the arms of Henry VIII executed in cut brick above the main arch; it also bears Sir Henry Fermor’s coat of arms. East Barsham is the most sumptuous of the group of Norfolk halls with gothic or renaissance terracotta detailing, its splendid heraldic display reflecting the alliances of this rising Tudor family whose town house in Norwich sported some identical motifs.[1]


The genteel resort of Gorleston lies just to the south of Great Yarmouth’s harbour mouth. Beachmen and pilots were established in Gorleston by the eighteenth century, and development moved to Cliff Hill, overlooking the harbour, during the early nineteenth century. The beach companies, formed in the 1820s to supply shipping and assist in rescues, built warehouses along the quayside. Roads of terraced houses appeared south of the original centre in the 1860s, then from the 1880s grander houses were put up nearer the cliffs; resort development took place from the 1890s. Significantly, Gorleston was home to the Cockrill family of architects and builders, who had a great influence on the development of Great Yarmouth and Gorleston in the late nineteenth and early to mid twentieth centuries. One of the family, the architect J. W. Cockrill, was the inventor of a patent wall facing tile; for details of the Cockrill family, please see the Great Yarmouth section.

Cockrill tiles may be glimpsed during a brief exploration of Gorleston, beginning above the pier in Bells Road, where the Fishmonger’s, at number 59, is completely tiled internally in Carter’s tiles (Fig 193). They are mostly turquoise with a dark green and yellow dado, and an excellent frieze in blues and white shows fishes of many varieties. Head eastward, passing the end of Marine Parade, where the shelters are partly built with Cockrill tiles. Then down to sea level for the Pavilion (1901, J. W. Cockrill), Pier Gardens, a domed music hall in red brick with terracotta panels and mouldings. In addition, well west of the river and beyond the unpleasant barrier of the Inner Relief Road, is Gorleston Cemetery Chapel (1889), Crab Lane, again designed by J. W. Cockrill; its south porch has red terracotta columns.


The remaining fragment of the Manor House, put up around 1545 for John Jenney, has superb terracotta facing on its first floor, basically a pattern of blank lancets in moulded brick surrounding long, narrow terracotta panels with motifs including Jenney’s hawk and hand crest, and a monogram roundel with two ’J’s and an ‘E’, for Jenney and his wife Elizabeth. Amongst the Norfolk halls displaying terracotta detailing, Great Cressingham is the most medieval and least renaissance in its imagery.[2]


The Old Rectory is part of the manor house built for the Shelton family around 1525 or shortly before; its terracotta detailing takes the form of bands above the ground and upper floor windows. In this example of the group of terracotta-decorated Norfolk halls, the motifs are both gothic and renaissance: the lower, gothic, frieze combines panels and lettering (repeats of ‘MR IHS’ for Christ and the Virgin Mary), while the upper, renaissance band includes profile heads.


Great Yarmouth was an important medieval port, providing almost double the number of ships London could manage for Edward III’s navy in 1347. The Town Walls, emphasising Yarmouth’s concentration on the River Yare rather than sea, were begun in 1285 and completed by 1893; the gates were demolished in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, but almost two-thirds of the length of the Walls survive. The unique town plan within the Walls also remains: the Rows, narrow medieval alleys which connected the three main north-south streets, escaped the Second World War almost unscathed. The town remained within its Walls until the nineteenth century; outside the Walls lay the open denes, used for grazing and the racecourse, in the middle of which was raised the Nelson Monument in 1817-19.

The first of Yarmouth’s resort hotels, the Royal, was built near the beach in 1840. In contrast to many other resorts, commercial developments were funded by outside, often London money; in other areas, resort companies used either local capital or capital provided from the catchment area. The Midlands provided most of Yarmouth’s visitors, but London initially provided the finance. Later, locals took over, rapidly followed by the Borough Council in the early years of the twentieth century. In terms of seaside architecture and architectural ceramics, the sea front remains one of Britain’s best and least altered.

Yarmouth’s own architects were in large part responsible for the buildings of the sea front, two major early cinemas - the Gem and Empire, both with ceramic facades - being designed by Arthur Samuel Hewitt, a rather shadowy figure who was articled to John Bond Pearce of Norwich, the designer of Yarmouth’s Town Hall, and was practising in Yarmouth by 1886. However, Yarmouth’s major turn-of-the-century architectural practice was begun by John William ‘Concrete’ Cockrill (1849‑1924), son of Gorleston builder William Cockrill, whose four sons (along with several of the third generation) became architects or builders. J. W. Cockrill attended Yarmouth School of Art and began practising as an architect in 1869, becoming borough engineer in 1874, a post which he held until 1922. His younger son, Ralph Scott Cockrill (b1879), was articled to his father in 1896-9 then remained as an assistant, designing many buildings in and around Yarmouth.[3]

The Cockrills were keen users of architectural ceramics in their buildings, although ‘Concrete’ Cockrill was, of course, a concrete enthusiast. His scheme to concrete Yarmouth’s unpaved Rows, half the cost to be paid by the Borough and half by the property owners, was one reason for his sobriquet. He invented the Cockrill wall facing tile, which he patented with Doulton’s of Lambeth in 1893; this L‑shaped tile obviated the need for shuttering during the building of concrete walls by acting as a retainer for the concrete.[4] The tour of Great Yarmouth begins on the Fishwharf, towards the south end of the quayside, then makes its way northward into the commercial centre of the town and out to the sea front, finishing near the Pleasure Beach and the Nelson Monument.

Begin at the Dolphin public house on the Fishwharf; this was built as the Fish Wharf Refreshment Rooms in two phases (1901 and 1904) to a design by J. W.

Corckrill. Its facade is of red brick with buff and deep orange terracotta, as well as green Cockrill patent tiles. Fishy imagery abounds, with dolphins and Neptune motifs in terracotta and fish in the stained glass. Now head northward along the quay (Southgates Road) towards the first sight of the Town Walls in the form of Palmer’s Tower, just north of Mariner’s Road, on which stands the Blackfriars Tavern. This pub was part of the 376-house tied estate of the local brewer Lacon’s, who had brewed at the Falcon Brewery on Church Plain, in the centre of Yarmouth, since the seventeenth century; the firm was taken over by Whitbread’s in 1966 and the brewery closed in 1968. Between the wars, Lacon’s was one of the few brewers who continued to use decorative ceramics on their pubs, partly because of the enthusiasm of their in-house architect A. W. ’Billy’ Ecclestone, who designed pubs in both neo-vernacular and modern styles. For the traditional-style pubs he had two-inch bricks and tiles specially handmade by the Somerleyton Brick Company and Tucker’s of Loughborough respectively. His pubs almost always sported a tile panel by Carter & Co of Poole, which acted as the pub sign; these panels continued to be manufactured for Lacon’s into the 1950s.[5] The small Blackfriars tile panel is signed by Carter’s and shows two monks taking wine from a barrel. A couple of streets north in Friar’s Lane is another former Lacon’s pub, the Clipper Schooner (1938, A. W. Ecclestone) where the rather larger Carter’s tile panel shows a ship.

Further along South Quay, between Nottingham Way and Yarmouth Way, is Row 111 House (EH), an early seventeenth century merchant’s house reconstructed following the Second World War and opened in 1954. It has a fine eighteenth century Dutch-tiled fire surround whose nautical motifs include sea horses, ships, whales and sea monsters. At the end of South Quay, opposite Haven Bridge, is Hall Quay and the Midland Bank, which opened in 1939 as the Yare Hotel. A tall fin was removed from its grey and white faience facade during remodelling as a bank in 1968. Another good faience facade is to be found nearby at 85 North Quay, a richly-ornamented former pub. Turn eastward into Regent Street, soon passing (at 30-31) the odd facade of Fastolff House (1908, Ralph Scott Cockrill), an office building with lively Germanic Art Nouveau decoration and oriel bays in an unusual, almost vitreous, buff faience. Next is the white faience neo-classical frontage of the Central Arcade (1925-6). Our route continues toward the seafront, along King Street and Trafalgar Road, but a diversion north at this point, beyond the Market Place, brings the visitor to the Garibaldi public house on the corner of St Nicholas Road and Factory Road. This enormous pub was rebuilt by Lacon’s in 1957, and a Carter’s tile panel of Garibaldi was installed on its exterior the following year; the 5’ by 3’ panel was hand-painted by Phyllis Hunter.[6] There is also a tile panel bearing the pub name.

Nearing the seafront in Nelson Road Central is the Norfolk Institute of Art and Design, built as the School of Arts and Crafts by J. W. Cockrill in 1912; the pepper-pot finials are of buff terracotta. It is a fairly early example of a steel-framed building, about which ‘Concrete’ Cockrill said that everything was concrete except the doors, but he was working on that.[7] Now to the seafront, Marine Parade, which is explored from the north end - the Royalty - to the south. The Royalty has a complex history, originating as the incomplete Aquarium (1875-6) which closed in 1882 but reopened as the Royal Aquarium the following year, having been reconstructed by local architects Bottle & Olley; it is now a cinema. The renaissance facade uses buff stone, Gibbs & Canning terracotta and moulded brick by Gunton’s of Costessey; there is some partially hidden tilework in the foyer.[8] Next is one of the stars of the seafront, the former Empire Cinema (1911), a chunk of crushing ceramic classicism by Arthur Hewitt (Fig 194). This early cinema, with its massive Leeds Fireclay Co vitreous terracotta facade (which originally carried a segmental arch), was built for the Yarmouth & Gorleston Investment & Building Co; the dado and marble floors were by Art Pavement and Decorations Ltd.[9] The lush interior plasterwork is extant but dilapidated.

Close to the Empire are the Marine Arcades, built in 1902 and 1904 by Arthur Hewitt for the local solicitors and developers Ferrier & Ferrier. Their orangey-red terracotta facades include dated pediments. In the yard of the Maritime Museum, on the corner of York Road, may be found the remains of the Coade stone head of Britannia, which originally topped the Nelson Monument (see below). Further south, almost opposite the Jetty and now largely obscured by the Flamingo amusement arcade, is the Hippodrome (actually on St George’s Road). This purpose-built circus, for entrepreneur and circus entertainer George Gilbert, was designed by Ralph Scott Cockrill and opened on the 20th July 1903. The delightful towered and curved main frontage is faced with pinky‑brown terracotta whose Art Nouveau motifs include birds, foliage and elongated faces (Fig 195). Although the interior has been altered, the original ring flooding mechanism is still in action, making the Hippodrome one of only a handful of such venues in the world. It is also one of only two surviving purpose-built circuses in Britain, the other being at Blackpool Tower. Despite the loss of chariot-racers from its three stained glass windows, and the closing off of direct access from the promenade, the facade retains a magical quality which heightens expectations of the show itself; fortunately, the dramatic introduction of water to the ring is as satisfying as ever.

Towards the south end of Marine Parade is the Windmill, built as the Gem Cinema by Arthur Hewitt for entrepreneur Charles B. Cochran in 1908. It is a jolly Edwardian baroque affair in buff faience, with twin towers, ogee roofs and globe finials (Fig 196). At night it was transformed into the ‘Palace of 5000 Lights’ by means of 1,500 electric light bulbs fixed to almost every surface; the windmill sail in the centre of its facade was a later addition. Across Marine Parade, Wellington Pier and the adjoining Winter Gardens (bought from Torquay by Yarmouth Borough Council in 1904) mark the end of the main seafront. The Wellington Pier Pavilion (1903, J. W. Cockrill) is a splendidly idiosyncratic design in a style reminiscent of European exhibition pavilions; it was originally clad in metallic uralite, but was reclad - and somewhat diminished by the removal of most decorative elements - in the 1950s. There is much use of tiles and terracotta on the steps at the sides of the Wellington Pier approach, the terracotta work bearing the town’s coat of arms. Indeed, all along the seaward side of Marine Parade there are small-scale terracotta features including urns and bases, and even a pinky-red terracotta toilet block dated 1900.

Finally, and almost at the southern tip of Great Yarmouth, to the Nelson Monument on Monument Road, put up in 1817-19 at the then-racecourse. It was designed by William Wilkins junior and is 144 feet in height, only a foot shorter than the rather later Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square. At its top a ring of six caryatids holds up a figure of Britannia. All these figures were originally of Coade stone, but the caryatids were replaced by concrete copies in 1896 at the behest of J. W. Cockrill.[10] Britannia herself was replaced by a largely fibreglass replica in 1982-3, along with the caryatids. The figure, sculpted by Joseph Panzetta, had been filled with concrete at some point, probably 1896, and the removal of the concrete reduced the Coade stone surface to rubble.[11] However, the head and helmet, both of which had escaped the concrete, were intact allowing moulds to be taken, and the remains of Britannia’s Coade stone head may now be seen at the Time and Tide Museum of Great Yarmouth Life in Blackfriars Road. The Monument is due to be fully restored by 2005.


All Saints Church, which was restored by G. E. Street in 1862, has a series of memorial tiles to departed communicants dating from around 1898 to 1902. The church lies only a few miles north of Southery (see below), where there is a much longer sequence of such tiles.


Although the restoration of St Withburga’s Church, in the park of Holkham Hall, was apparently carried out by the London architect James K. Colling in in 1868-71, it was described in The Builder of 1876 as recently restored. The strongly coloured tile pavement, shown in an engraving, was by Maw & Co.[12] Colling had been a pupil of the Norwich architect John Brown during 1836-40.


The major ceramic attraction in King’s Lynn is Clifton House, on the corner of Queen Street and King’s Staithe Lane, near the quayside. Behind its 1708 brick facade is the remains of a medieval merchant’s house and an intriguing Elizabethan watchtower, the last survivor of a series of look-out towers beside the river. The floors of the hall and solar are laid with commercially produced ‘Westminster’ tiles, mostly light and dark glazed but with a few decorated specimens. The tiles, which probably date from the second half of the thirteenth century, are 4¾“ square and laid in a pattern of bands and blocks. After being hidden beneath floorboards in the 1580s, they were rediscovered in the early 1960s, then relaid (allowing a damp-proof floor to be installed) in exactly their original positions. The Clifton House pavements are rare examples of in situ secular tiling.[13]

Turn eastward into Saturday Market; on its south side is St Margaret’s Church with a rich encaustic pavement laid during the 1875 restorations of the nave, by George Gilbert Scott, and chancel, by Ewan Christian. The tiles, which are mostly by Godwin (with some Minton work in the chancel) include four-inch tiles around the font and nine-tile groups leading to the altar. There are eight different four-tile patterns and seven different sixteen-tile patterns in this excellent display. Continuing east into St James’ Street, at number thirty is a butcher’s shop whose doorways are flanked by sets of three late nineteenth-century pictorial tiles of farm animals, including an excellent pig.


In the nave floor of St Peter’s Church is an unusual and attractive mosaic arrangement of tiles and stone in a rose window formation. This small medieval church, now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, was restored in 1893.


The medieval Church of St Mary was restored in 1868, but the unusual encaustic tiled dado, which stretches around nave and chancel, dates from the 1880s. The tiles were overpainted in 1978 but later revealed.


The buildings of Norwich display a remarkable range of building materials, with flint and plaster being particularly characteristic. For the ceramic enthusiast, the city is perhaps best known for the decorative brickwork produced by the firm of Gunton’s, and for a remarkable series of turn‑of‑the‑century buildings designed by the architect George Skipper, with rich terracotta or faience decoration. Norwich was also the home of the firm Barnard, Bishop & Barnard, established 1851, who made cast iron fireplaces at their riverside metalworking site. They also supplied a range of tiles for use in the fireplaces, notably the William De Morgan design ‘BBB’ with its floral motif, named after the firm and probably his most popular design.

An estate yard supplied moulded bricks used in the rebuilding of Costessey Hall, on the north-western edge of Norwich, in 1827. Subsequently, George Gunton, son of the original foreman, started working the Costessey yard and selling decorative brickwork and small solid blocks of terracotta; by 1851 he was offering ornamental chimneys, turrets, cornices and copings. Costessey brickwork and terracotta was used in the 1870s and 80s for hotels round the coast of East Anglia, and for the window tracery of numerous chapels. The works at Costessey closed about the time of the First World War, but production continued elsewhere until the Second World War.

John Betjeman described George Skipper (1856-1948) as being ‘to Norwich rather what Gaudi was to Barcelona’.[14] He was one of the most inventive of the late Victorian architects and gave Norwich a series of remarkable buildings which use polychromy and art nouveau detailing to bring colour and animation to the city’s streets. Skipper was the son of an East Dereham building contractor. Following a year at Norwich School of Art and pupilage with an architectural practice in London, he set up practice in East Dereham in 1879, moving to Norwich the following year. During the 1890s he undertook a series of major commissions in Cromer, erecting the three largest hotels in the resort and the town hall. Several of his major works in Norwich feature in this tour of the city, which starts north of the River Wensum at St George Colegate (about a quarter-mile north-west of the Cathedral). For a shorter version, which still includes the Skipper buildings, begin in London Street and finish at Red Lion Street.

In St George’s Church, Colegate is the early renaissance terracotta tombchest of Robert Jannys, mayor of Norwich in 1517 and 1524. Jannys died in 1530 and the tall tombchest dates from 1533-4, making it slightly later than Norfolk’s three other similar terracotta monuments at Oxborough, Wymondham and Bracon Ash, although probably carried out by the same hand. Decorative motifs on the tombchest include pairs of dolphins, each with a tiny ball in its mouth.

To reach the city centre, walk south along St George’s Street, cross the river and continue up St Andrew’s Hill, turning right into London Street. The small building at 7 London Street (1896) was George Skipper’s architectural office; it is now part of Jarrold’s department store. The facade expresses his indebtedness to renaissance design and his love of decorative ceramics. The six relief panels above the windows were produced by Gunton at his Costessey Works in a fine clay termed ‘Cosseyware’. The main reliefs show Skipper on site with his wife and a young boy, inspecting the work of stonemasons, and Skipper debating plans with a client and his family. The smaller flanking panels show carpenters, smiths, bricklayers and plasterers at work. Next door, on the corner of London Street and Exchange Street, is Jarrold’s store, designed by Skipper and built in 1903-5 (with later alterations); it was his first use in Norwich of the neo‑baroque style. Sadly the dome which Skipper had proposed for the corner was never erected. The London Street elevation, begun in 1903, was given Doultonware panels bearing the names of celebrated authors first published by Jarrolds; these have now been painted over.

Continue west up Guildhall Hill and into St Giles Street to see the former Norfolk Daily Standard Offices (1899-1900, G. Skipper), on the corner with Upper Goat Lane (Fig 197). This small building demonstrates the way in which Skipper used ceramics and a medley of fashionable styles to produce a striking frontage which made the most of a small corner site. The Standard offices are in a honey‑coloured terracotta over a granite base, and the elevation includes reliefs of Caxton and Defoe. Return to the Market Place; directly across it is Gentleman’s Walk and Skipper’s best-known building, the Royal Arcade (1898‑9), built on a site occupied by the stables and stableyard of the Royal Hotel (Fig 198). It was put up for a consortium of seaside hoteliers and its appearance was so colourful and exotic that the press likened it to a ‘fragment from the Arabian nights dropped into the heart of the old city’.[15] Skipper worked with W. J. Neatby, the head of the architectural department at Doulton’s, to produce the ceramic decoration in which a variety of fashionable forms, including wide arches and bulging polygonal columns, were given art nouveau detailing (Fig 199). Most of the patterns were created by glazes being poured into indentations formed in the blocks when they were pressed. Carraraware was used for the exterior, while inside the arcade are friezes of Parian ware decorated with zodiac symbols, peacocks and foliage. The rear entrance incorporated the rebuilt White Rose public house, but this elevation was mutilated during conversion to a butcher’s shop in 1963. The floor of the arcade dates from restoration work carried out in 1986-91.

Continue south along Gentleman’s Walk, which soon becomes Haymarket; look out for the former Haymarket Chambers (1901‑2, G. Skipper), where diminutive turrets top an elevation with dolphin‑like figures and small decorative panels. The facade is given increased interest through the use of three colours of terracotta: red, cream and grey‑brown. Backtracking slightly, take White Lion Street eastward to Red Lion Street for Skipper’s Commercial Chambers (1901‑3). The rustication and banding give added weight to the elevation, and the terracotta caryatids have a serious task in supporting the first floor balcony.

The city’s other ceramic locations are further from the centre. On its south-western fringe is the pedestrian underpass beneath Chapel Field Road, linking Chapelfield Gardens with Vauxhall Street. Here the walls have been lined by colourful mass-produced industrial tiles which have been cut and arranged to form abstracted shapes representing local buildings, including the Royal Arcade; this mural work is by Melanie Strank and dates from 1988.

To the west of the centre, just beyond the inner ring road at 4 Earlham Road, is the Plantation Garden, created by the wealthy Norwich upholsterer and cabinetmaker Henry Trevor from 1856 onward in a former chalk quarry (Fig 200). Over a period of forty years Trevor built ornate medieval-style walls, ruins and follies using local brick, laid out serpentine paths and balustraded terraces, and added a rustic bridge, a palm house and a gothic fountain, the latter partly made from Cosseyware. The garden, with its dramatic changes of level, became something of a tourist attraction but was eventually abandoned following the Second World War. It is currently undergoing restoration by the Plantation Garden Preservation Trust, and visitors are once again able to see some of Trevor’s wickedly inventive brick and terracotta work.

Just over half a mile further west is the entrance to Norwich (Earlham Road) Cemetery, opened 1856. The Soldiers’ Monument (1878) is a column with a Doulton terracotta figure depicting the ‘Spirit of the Army’. It was designed by the sculptor John Bell, who had been responsible for the marble figures symbolising America (1865-71) which formed part of the Albert Memorial. Bell persuaded Henry Doulton to allow his sculptor George Tinworth to work with him to reproduce America in Doulton terracotta; this immense group was shown at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876, where it attracted much attention. Bell commented that ‘Nobody before has ever dared to produce terracotta on a really heroic scale’.[16]
Finally, on the southern edge of the city is County Hall (1966-8, Uren & Levy), Martineau Road, a massive reinforced concrete-framed block set in parkland. It was one of the last substantial buildings to use the traditional style of faience cladding, in this case slabs of russet Hathernware faience combined with red brick. Unfortunately, at a distance the effect is simply an undifferentiated dull brown mass.[17]


The great brick pile of Oxburgh Hall (NT) was built by Edmund Bedingfield in the 1480s; Henry VII visited in 1487, by which time Bedingfield had been knighted. The moated hall was damaged in the Civil War and rebuilt from about 1835 by the sixth baronet, Sir Henry Richard Bedingfield. His architects were J. C. Buckler and A. W. N. Pugin, although there is little which can directly be attributed to the latter. Buckler’s restoration was the making of the picturesque house of today, and included the addition of red terracotta oriel windows. In the library (now dining room) his neo-tudor chimneypiece, which dates from the 1850s, has blue, white and gold tiles bearing the arms and monogram of the sixth baronet. Their design refers to late fourteenth-century floor tiles used in the palaces of Burgundy.[18]

Sir Edmund Bedingfield (d1496) was married to Margaret (d1513), sister of Lord Marney, the builder of Layer Marney Tower in Essex, which was intended to rival Wolsey’s Hampton Court in size and grandeur, although only its massive gatehouse was built, around 1520. Both Hampton Court and Layer Marney were decorated with newly fashionable Italian renaissance terracotta, and the terracotta tombchests of Lord Marney (d1523) and his son John (d1525) were in the same style.

In her will, dated 1513, Margaret Bedingfield ordered that her body be laid to rest in a chapel - yet to be built - at the Church of St John Evangelist, Oxborough. The construction date of the Bedingfield Chapel is unknown, but it contains two monumental and identical terracotta tombs, the paleness of the terracotta combining with their billowing canopies to achieve an unearthly lightness (Fig 201). It seems that connections between the Marney and Bedingfield families ensured that Italian-style terracotta was introduced to Norfolk, the date of the tombs probably being about 1525. The Oxborough terracotta work was possibly carried out by local craftsmen rather than Italian workers, as at Layer Marney, where there is no documentary proof that the craftsmen were Italian.[19] Certainly the Oxborough craftsmen appear to have worked on the three other Norfolk tombs executed in terracotta around the same time and in the same style: the Berney monument at Bracon Ash, the Ferrers monment at Wymondham Abbey and - dating from 1533-4 - the Jannys monument at St George Colegate, Norwich.[20] After this, and its use on a number of Norfolk houses, the spurt of interest in terracotta died out as the country became more insular following the dissolution of the monasteries; intense religious and political nationalism would have been intolerant of a material so obviously derived from Italy.


On the 26th April 1857, the Revd William Weller-Poley preached twice at West Tofts Church, about four miles north of the now-redundant All Saints Church, Santon, of which he had recently become rector. West Tofts Church had just been completely restored for the Sutton family by E. W. Pugin, although partly to his father A. W. N. Pugin’s design; in the process, the elder Pugin’s 1846 chantry chapel had been demolished. At the time of Weller-Poley’s visit, it lay dismantled. In contrast to West Tofts, All Saints was a small church with no chancel, and its wealthy new rector appears to have seized the chance to remedy this state of affairs, as much of the old Pugin chantry now forms the chancel of All Saints, complete with the elaborate reredos of fleur-de-lys and incised yellow tiles and the large, patterned floor tiles. Much the same tiles remain at West Tofts (see below).[21]


St Mary’s Church (1858) contains an extremely unusual collection of ceramic memorial tiles, similar to those at All Saints Church, Brightlingsea, Essex, although lacking their maritime theme.[22] Southery’s rector during 1895-1932 was G. C. M. Hall, who had previously been a curate at Brightlingsea, where the architect-priest Ernest Geldart occasionally preached.[23] Geldart, whose views on church decoration strongly influenced the use of tiles at Brightlingsea, designed the north porch and some fittings for Southery Church over the period 1899-1919. He often used small tile plaques to record his building works, and at Southery there are two such tiles in the porch, dating from 1904 and recording the names of its builders. Another Geldart tile marks the dedication of the organ in 1899. In addition, a long sequence of tiles begun by G. C. M. Hall runs through the entire nave and into the chancel, and records the names of deceased communicants. Other tiles are used to mark events such as the floods of 1915 and 1916, and gifts of money for repairs.


Wallington Hall dates from the late fifteenth century, but was partly rebuilt soon after its sale in 1525 to Sir William Coningsby. His works included the addition of the north porch, in brick with lavish terracotta detailing such as friezes of blank tracery and lozenges, and egg-and-dart motifs.


Inside the Robert Catesby pub (converted from a georgian house in the late 1990s) on Staithe Street is a 6’ by 3’ tile panel of Catesby (1573-1605), one of the conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot. The panel, which is in poor condition, was saved from the Robert Catesby pub in London’s Tottenham Court Road, demolished in the 1970s.


A chantry was added to the medieval Church of St Mary by A. W. N. Pugin (1812-52) in 1846, in memory of Lady Mary Sutton (d1842) of nearby Lynford Hall. Following Sir Richard Sutton’s death in 1855, the new baronet Sir John Sutton, who had been a friend and patron of Pugin, was able to fully restore the church. Demolition of the old chancel, along with Pugin’s chantry, began in March 1856; the chantry was eventually removed to Santon (see above).[24] The works, which were carried out by E. W. Pugin but partly to the 1850 designs of his father, were completed around the end of 1856. The chancel was by the younger Pugin, but the new and much grander chantry, the Sutton Chantry, was by A. W. N. Pugin. Here the Sutton tombchest is surrounded by lavish Pugin-designed Minton floor tiling, some of which bears the Sutton emblem, a barrel combined with the letter ‘S’.[25] Please note that St Mary’s Church stands within the Army’s Stanford Training Area, and access is only by Ministry of Defence permit. Further information from Headquarters Stanford Training Area, West Tofts Camp, Thetford (01842 855235).


In Wymondham Abbey is the the Ferrers monument, a renaissance-style terracotta structure dating from around 1525. It comprises three spectacular half-cylinders mounted above canopies and niches, the cylindrical parts made from the same moulds by the same craftsmen as those of the Bedingfield Chapel at Oxborough.[26] Henry Cole saw the Ferrers monument in 1864; it was one of many visits he made at home and abroad to study the use of terracotta while overseeing the design development of the Victorian and Albert Museum.[27]

Norfolk Roundup

In the sanctuary pavement of St Andrew’s Church, Barton Bendish are some fourteenth century patterned tiles. At St Nicholas Church, Blakeney is a Godwin pavement of uncommon black and yellow relief tiles. There are reused Roman tiles in the north porch of St Edmund’s Church, Caistor St Edmund, which stands within the brick and tile walls of the Roman town Venta Icenorum. Several cottages in Costessey High Street have unusually tall and ornate chimneys made locally by Gunton’s; one cottage is dated 1852 in terracotta. On the crow-stepped east gable (c1520) of Denver Hall, Denver is a series of terracotta tablets bearing letters and decorative motifs; a similar series resides at the foot of the wall. In the Church of St Andrew and St Mary, Langham is a Second World War memorial in terracotta and decorated tiles, giving thanks from the Netherlands Forces. The summerhouse (1915) in the gardens of Sandringham House, overlooking the lake, contains large spreads of Dutch tiles of contemporary date including two panels of galleons. New Hall (1878-80), Snettisham has several contemporary fire surrounds of William De Morgan’s lustre tiles.


1.^         Jeremy Musson, 'East Barsham Manor, Norfolk', Country Life, 198 (2004), pp52-57.
2.^         Jane A. Wight, Brick Building in England from the Middle Ages to 1550 (John Baker, London, 1972), p184.
3.^         Lynn F. Pearson, The People's Palaces - Britain's Seaside Pleasure Buildings (Barracuda Books, Buckingham, 1991), pp83-4.
4.^         Patent No. 23,230, 4th December 1893; J. W. Cockrill and H. L. Doulton.
5.^         Lynn Pearson, 'Decorative ceramics in the buildings of the British brewing industry', TACS Journal, 8 (2000), pp26-36.
6.^         Carter Archive, Poole Museum Service, 3D/7.
7.^         Michael Stratton and Lynn Pearson, Tour Notes: Norwich & Norfolk (TACS, 1991).
8.^         Tamworth Castle, Gibbs & Canning Archive; information from Angella Streluk.
9.^         Burmantofts Pottery, (Bradford Art Galleries and Museum, Bradford, 1983).
10.^       Nikolaus Pevsner and Bill Wilson, Norfolk 1: Norwich and North-East 2nd ed. Buildings of England (Penguin, London, 1997), p159.
11.^       Alison Kelly, Mrs Coade's Stone (Self Publishing Association, Upton-upon-Severn, 1990), pp237-8.
12.^       The Builder, vol 34, 22nd April 1876, pp387, 389.
13.^       Ian M. Betts, Medieval 'Westminster' floor tiles (MoLAS Monograph 11) (Museum of London, London, 2002).
14.^       David Jolley, Architect Exuberant: George Skipper, 1856-1948 (Norwich School of Art, Norwich, 1975).
15.^       Rosemary Salt, Plans for a Fine City (Victorian Society East Anglian Group, Norwich, 1988).
16.^       Desmond Eyles and Louise Irvine, The Doulton Lambeth Wares (Richard Dennis, Shepton Beauchamp, 2002), p78.
17.^       Michael Stratton, Clad is bad? The relationship between structural and ceramic facing materials, in Structure and Style: Conserving Twentieth Century Buildings, ed Michael Stratton (E. & F. N. Spon, London, 1997), pp164-92.
18.^       Hans van Lemmen, Tiles in Architecture (Laurence King Publishing, London, 1993), p117.
19.^       Wight, Brick Building, p181.
20.^       Nikolaus Pevsner and Bill Wilson, Norfolk 2: North-West and South. Buildings of England (Penguin, London, 2000), p582.
21.^       Anthony Barnes, 'Pugin Rediscovered?' Ecclesiology Today, (2001) 26, pp30-33.
22.^       Lynn Pearson, 'Memorial and Commemorative Tiles in Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Churches', TACS Journal, 9 (2003), pp13-23.
23.^       The editor is grateful to James Bettley for information on Southery Church.
24.^       Barnes, 'Pugin Rediscovered?'
25.^       Paul Atterbury and Clive Wainwright, Pugin: A Gothic Passion (Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1994), pp146-7.
26.^       Pevsner, Norfolk2, p797.
27.^       Michael Stratton, The Terracotta Revival (Victor Gollancz, London, 1993), p54.

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