Diameter: 15.800 cm (circular
Length: 27.000 cm (polygonal tiles)
Width: 27.000 cm (polygonal tiles)
Room 47: Europe 1800-1900
Tile mosaic designed by A.W.N. Pugin
Made by Minton & Co., Stoke-on-Trent, England, AD 1845
From the floor of St George's Cathedral, Southwark
Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-52), the celebrated architect and designer, was a prominent figure in the revival of Gothic and medieval styles, creating a strong influence on Victorian taste. He published widely, and produced designs for furniture, metalwork, textiles and ceramics, often intended to be used in the buildings he designed. His designs for St George's Cathedral are dated to 1840, a few years after he was responsible for the interiors of the Palace of Westminster, which was also fitted with colourful inlaid floor tiles.
The inlaid technique (also misleadingly known as 'encaustic') can be traced back to the Middle Ages: a design is impressed into a clay blank and then filled with liquid clay (slip) of another colour. The colour scheme was usually buff and red.
Pugin worked in collaboration with the Minton factory to successfully revive the inlaid technique, introducing such new colours as blue, white and green. The motifs are taken from medieval sources but Pugin achieved remarkable originality in his clear designs. In the case of 'sandwich' tiles such as these, a layer of coarse clay is sandwiched between two layers of much finer clay, then used as the blank. This method reduced shrinkage in the firing, and was more economical.
P. Atterbury and C. Wainwright (eds), Pugin: a Gothic passion (New Haven and London, 1994)
K. Beulah, Church tiles of the nineteenth (Shire Publications, 1987)
J. Jones, Minton: the first two hundred (Shrewsbury, Swan Hill Press, 1993)