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Holt Antiques at Walsingham Mill

14thC / Medieval Period English Antique Encaustic Floor Tile Depicting Vines And Foliage

14thC / Medieval Period English Antique Encaustic Floor Tile Depicting Vines And Foliage

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14thC / Medieval English Antique Encaustic Floor Tile Depicting Vines And Foliage

A 14th-century English antique encaustic floor tile.

Known as a "Bawsey Tile", tiles of this type originated from a medieval tile kiln, based in Norfolk, England.

History of Bawsey Tile Kiln - as per an extract from Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery:

In 1843, Daniel Gurney, an amateur archaeologist (better known as a member of the founding family of Gurney’s Bank in Norwich), discovered a large number of tiles buried in a field. The location was in an area of rural Norfolk, close to a small river and an area of woodland, on land pocketed with clay and sand deposits. This was on the outskirts of the small village of Bawsey, near Kings Lynn. Not the most likely of places you would think to find the remains of a medieval commercial kiln site and tilery – one that we believe produced glazed floor tiles in large quantities for a local market.

Though a rarity in the region, this important archaeological site was not well documented by Gurney and was lost once more until 1928, when a local antiquary by the name of Harry Lawrence Bradfer-Lawrence and his friend Captain John Henry Montagu Manners, Marquess of Granby and soon to be 9th Duke of Rutland, rediscovered the site. Over the next few years, Bradfer-Lawrence and the Marquess excavated the area. Thanks to these amateur enthusiasts, many hundreds of tiles were found and documented.

The Bawsey tiles – what are they?

The Bawsey tiles are not particularly pretty, elaborate, or detailed in their design. They are small, lead-glazed, and relief decorated – meaning the pattern stands proud or is sunk from its background. Not the best design for floor tiles you might think, but that was indeed their intended purpose.

They display characteristics more commonly found in relief tiles from the medieval period in Germany than their more decorative inlaid counterparts seen in the great cathedrals and monasteries of England and France. This is possibly the result of the strong trade links that existed during the medieval period between West Norfolk and Northwestern Europe, bringing with it manufacturing styles and techniques to the region not always so commonly seen in other parts of the country. King’s Lynn, known as Bishop’s Lynn during this period, was one of England’s most important ports.

57 different designs have been found to date, featuring animals, birds, mythical creatures, heraldry, and inscriptions. They vary in colour from dark, almost black, to green and deep yellow. We can be confident they were made in the years around 1376, as one design known as the Nicholas de Stowe tile, was likely made to surround or mark the last resting place of Nicholas, vicar of the parish of Snettisham who died that year and was buried in the chancel of Snettisham Church. However, the exact period of production at the Bawsey site remains unknown.

About this tile:

This example is part of a trailing vine and foliage design.


St. Benedict's area of Norwich, England. Former Chris Pickvance collection.

Condition - As per the images. A further detailed condition report is available upon request.

Size: 10.5 cm x 10.5 cm (5" x 5")




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We are a member of the following 3 Professional Institutions:

1. LAPADA (London and Provincial Antique Dealers Association) –  LAPADA is the UK’s largest trade association for professional art & antique dealers (representing approximately 500 UK dealer members). All items are backed by our LAPADA guarantee;

2. CINOA –Confédération Internationale des Négociants en Oeuvres d'Art, (or International Confederation of Art and Antique Dealers' Associations) is the world association of art & antique dealer associations (representing 5000 dealers from 32 associations in 22 countries); and

3. The Norfolk & Suffolk Antique Dealers Association - Representing reputable, high quality antiques dealers based in Norfolk and Suffolk.

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