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Great Malvern Priory

 

Medieval Tiles

 

LINK TO LITTLE MALVERN PRIORY

 

BACK TO WALES, CENTRAL ENGLAND AND EAST ANGLIA

 

 

 

 

 

Page in preparation
 

 

Post Card photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rich collection of bench end carvings and misericords in the choir stalls compensate for the lack of  stone sculptures, most particularly because, unlike most of the old English cathedrals, they are all accessible.  The misericords include an almost complete set of monthly activities and will have their own dedicated Paradoxplace page.  One of our favourites, shown below, is actually Victorian - which just goes to show that they could have fun after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Malvern's Medieval Tiles

 

There are now some 1300 tiles in Great Malvern priory dating from between 1450 and 1500.  All the tiles are now wall mounted.  The square tiles were rescued from the church floor  during 1800s restoration work.  The rectangular tiles were intended for wall decoration from the beginning.  The "Tile Wall" starts in the south east corner of the church (below), swings round behind the altar and ends with a flat stretch on the north side of the choir (source for most of the remaining photos).

 

It is estimated that some 50,000 tiles would have been needed to cover the floor of the main church.  Two thirds of them were decorated, the remainder plain.  The decorated tiles were grouped in diamond shaped arrays in groups of 1, 4, 9 and 16.  Nobody made any effort to preserve the plain tiles or the specific diamond layouts during restoration works.

 

In the middle ages there was a large tile-works attached to the priory, and their tiles graced most of the abbeys and churches in the region (including Little Malvern Priory) and further afield.  Sadly, floor tiles do not last the test of time well, and some that did have ended up in the British museum (Cistercian ones for example) - two reasons why this in situ collection is so intriguing.

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the left bottom row of the tile wall above is the so called "Friends Tile"

 

Thenke man thi liffe

mai not ev[er] endure

that thou dost thi self

of that thow art sure

but that thow kepist

un to thi sectur cure

and ev[er] hit availe the

hit is but aventure

 

"Be aware of your mortality, so do good whilst you are still alive rather than leave it to another to carry out your will after your death"

 

or, more directly,

 

"Do what you want with your money while you are still alive, if you leave it to others to decide, anything may happen"

 

 

 

In the middle sits a "Stafford Knot" - Coat of Arms of the Dukes of Buckingham.  In the middle of the knot is a cartwheel hub with spoke holes ready!  To the left of the knot the tile inscription reads

 

"In te d[omi]ne speravi no[n] confu[n]d[ar] in etirno"

 

which is taken from Psalm 31

"In thee, O Lord, I have put my trust, let me never be put to confusion"

 

 

 

"Whillar" presumably had something to do with the tiles - his personal tile now sits between the Coat of Arms of the Diocese of Worcester on one side and the English Royal Coat of Arms post 1405 on the other.  Whillar would probably be quite chuffed about that.  The tiles would not have been laid in this array originally - the 1800s church restoration rescued many tiles from the church floor and they were mounted on the "tile wall" in no particular order or pattern.

 

 

 

Purpose made wall tiles have kept their glazing remarkably well.

 

 

Great Malvern Priory Website            Great Malvern in Sacred Destinations

 

 

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All original material Adrian Fletcher 2000-2015 - The contents may not be hotlinked, or reproduced without permission