Morris & Co tiles

OvermantelThis overmantel decorated with tiles painted by Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. was installed over the fireplace in Old Hall in 1864. It was modified in 1873 by the addition of tiles depicting the two foundress queens.

The painted tiles depict: the two foundress queens, the two patron saints, the Angel of Night, the Angel of Day, and a Labour of the Month for each of the twelve months.

In 1875, a wooden canopy was added over the panel of tiles.

Margaret of AnjouElizabeth WoodvilleLeft: Margaret of Anjou as Queen. Recognisable by the daisies (marguerites) in her dress.

Right: Elizabeth Woodville as Queen. Her costume and jewellery are modelled on those in the much-copied portrait.

Both these were designed by Ford Madox Brown in 1873, and added to the earlier tiles.

St BernardSt MargaretLeft: St Bernard, designed by Burne-Jones.

Right: St Margaret, designed by Rossetti.

Angel of NightAngel of DayLeft: Angel of Night

Right: Angel of Day

Both designed by Morris.

JanuaryFebruaryLeft: January, designed possibly by Burne-Jones, or possibly by Morris.

January is personified by the two-headed god Janus: the old head looks back to the old year, and the young head looks forward to the new year.

Right: February. Warming designed by Burne-Jones.

A young woman reads a Valentine card while warming herself in front of a fire, accompanied by a black cat.

MarchAprilLeft: March. Pruning, designed by Ford Madox Brown.

A man sits on a tree branch, pruning. Beneath him, a white owl sits in a hole in the tree.

Right: April, designed by Morris.

A woman walks in a meadow of flowers, wearing a wreath of leaves, and holding a branch.

MayJuneLeft: May. Falconry, by Ford Madox Brown.

A woman holds a falcon, accompanied by a dog.

Right: June. Mowing, by Morris.

A man sharpens his scythe with a stone.

JulyAugustLeft: July. Reaping, designed either by Morris or by Rossetti.

Right: August. Threshing, designed by Rossetti.

SpetemberOctoberLeft: September. Vintaging, designed by Rossetti.

A woman pours a bucket of new-picked grapes into a barrel.

Right: October. Feeding pigs, designed by Burne-Jones.

A woman shakes acorns from a tree to feed the pigs below.

NovemberDecemberLeft: November. Sowing, designed by Ford Madox Brown.

Right: December. Slaugtering a pig, designed either by Ford Madox Brown or by Rossetti.

Note: all photographs on this page were taken before the cleaning of 2005.

Further reading

1980: Morris & Company in Cambridge : catalogue, by Duncan Robinson and Stephen Wildman[Fellow], pp. 26–​9. (ISBN 978-0-521-23310-1, 978-0-521-29903-9)

1996: William Morris Tiles : The Tile Designs of Morris and his Fellow-Workers, by Richard and Hilary Myers, pp. 62–​67 and plates 25–​29. (ISBN 978-0-903685-43-6) [Old Hall fireplace overmantel]

1999: The Tile Decoration by Morris & Co. for Queens’ College, Cambridge: The Inspiration of Illuminated Manuscripts, by Michaela Braesel, in Apollo 149, no. 443 (January 1999), pp. 25–​33. (ISSN 0003-6536) [reproduced by kind permission of Apollo Magazine and of the author]