The Medieval Tiles

Within the cloister walks at Titchfield survive the finest collection of medieval tiles in southern England.

The tiles were made by pressing a wooden stamp into wet clay. White liquid clay was poured into the indent and excess scraped off to form the design. The tiles were then coated with a lead glaze and fired in a kiln.

Tile pavement from Titchfield Abbey cloister

A well-preserved tile pavement from the cloister.  © English Heritage Photo Library  

Similar designs occur at other nearby abbeys, such as Durford Abbey, suggesting they were all made in the late 13th century by the same team of tile makers.

The tiles were covered up by the courtyard of the later mansion house, where they lay preserved for over 400 years. They were rediscovered during excavations in 1923.

A Latin inscription on one of the pavements was orientated to greet the canons as they approached the refectory for their meals. It translates as ‘Before you sit down to meat at your table first remember the poor’. The tiles were protected by the construction of a porch that led to the Tudor great hall.

Inscription in refectory

The inscription at the refectory entrance in Lombardic script. © English Heritate


The text and pictures on this page are derived from the 'Heritage Unlocked' series of guidebooks published in 2004. We intend to review, update and enhance the content in the near future as part of the Portico project, whose objective is to provide information on the history, significance, research background and sources for all English Heritage properties.

Portico: Researching English Heritage Sites