Gift of Major S.V. Christie-Miller
Room 40: Medieval Europe
The King's Pavement
Clarendon Palace, Wiltshire, England, AD 1240-44
Clarendon Palace was a popular hunting lodge of the Norman kings of England. It became a particular favourite of Henry II (reigned 1154-89) and Henry III (reigned 1216-72), who both spent large amounts of money on its refurbishment, including a new chapel (1234-37) built by Elias of Dyrham. Excavations made during the 1930s unearthed large numbers of tiles in the vicinity of the king's private chapel. They had been scattered as a result of falling from the first floor, where the chapel was located.
A large, circular, puzzle emerged as the tiles were reassembled. Ten differently patterned tiles of different size indicated how the bands should be arranged. Each one was separated by a band of narrow, green tiles. Marks were found that had been made to help the original assembly of the pavement, which provided valuable clues for the reconstruction. Circular patterns are known from the thirteenth century in France and England.
An inscription at the top reads 'Pavimentum Henrici Regis Anglie'. This is unlikely to be original. When the pavement was reconstructed the surviving tiles with letters made little sense. the present inscription was devised - with the addition of an extra G and an H - as an appropriate possibility.
E. Eames, English medieval tiles (London, The British Museum Press, 1985)
E. Eames, Catalogue of Medieval lead-gla (London, The British Museum Press, 1989)