Morris & Co tiles

Photo of overmantel with Morris tiles in Old Hall
This 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.

Key to the tiles over the fireplace
Margaret
of Anjou
        Angel
of Night
  Angel
of Day
        Elizabeth
Woodville
    Jan. Feb. Mar.    
           
      St Bernard     St Margaret      
Apr.   May   June   July   Aug.   Sep.   Oct.   Nov.   Dec.
               
               

Margaret of Anjou
Elizabeth Woodville
Left: 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 Bernard

St Margaret
Left: St Bernard, designed by Burne-Jones.

Right: St Margaret, designed by Rossetti.

Angel of Night
Angel of Day
Left: Angel of Night

Right: Angel of Day

Both designed by Morris.

January
February
Left: 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.

March
April
Left: 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.

May
June
Left: 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.

July
August
Left: July. Reaping, designed either by Morris or by Rossetti.

Right: August. Threshing, designed by Rossetti.

Spetember
October
Left: 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.

November
December
Left: 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.

Links

See the William Morris Gallery for pictures of similar tiles.

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]