Tring tiles thumbnail 1
Tring tiles thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Ceramics, Room 138, The Harry and Carol Djanogly Gallery

Tring tiles

Tile
ca. 1330 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Medieval tiles were normally made by impressing designs into raw red clay blanks. The designs were carved on to wooden blocks. The hollows in the clay were then filled with contrasting white pipe-clay. But the series of tiles found at Tring in Hertfordshire were made in a different way. Here a talented and humorous potter drew the tiles through a coating of white slip. He then scraped the background away to produce a kind of ceramic strip cartoon. The imagery on this tile and on other tiles from this group held by the Victoria & Albert Museum and the British Museum are scenes from the Apocryphal Infancy Gospel of St Thomas and depict scenes from the childhood of Jesus Christ.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Red earthenware covered with a white slip, incised and carved, and a clear lead glaze
Brief description
Red earthenware covered with a white slip, incised and carved with apocryphal and gospel scenes from the childhood of Christ; the whole covered in a clear lead glaze. Said to have come from Tring Church, Hertfordshire. English, made about 1330.
Physical description
Lead-glazed earthenware tile covered with a white slip, carved and incised with scenes from the apochryphal and gospel accounts of the childhood of Christ.



Tile of red earthenware with decoration representing incidents from the apocryphal accounts of the infancy of Christ. Executed by scratching through and cutting away a white slip under a yellow clear glaze.



The tile is divided into two equal compartments. The subject on the left relates to the story of a boy who imitated Jesus in sliding down a sunbeam and fell. A group of three persons are seen remonstrating with Joseph. In the right hand compartment the boy Christ stands on the left with a book in his left hand and his right uplifted. Three boys kneel before him. Above the three boys is a horizontal branch with foliage.
Dimensions
  • Taken from register length: 14 1/8in
  • Taken from register width: 7 7/8in
  • Length: 35.9cm
Marks and inscriptions
XXVI (incised on back)
Gallery label
Wall tile with apocryphal scene from the childhood of Jesus Christ, probably English (found in Tring Church), about 1330(2010 (TAB))
Credit line
Bought
Object history
(Registered File: MA/1/F1079 Foulkes, W.S. Mrs.)

(21 June 1927) Joan Evans to Rackham: Her [Mrs Foulkes'] husband purchased them when they were reflooring a Church in the Tring district and she has had them for many years.

(5 July 1927) Mrs. Foulkes to Rackham: The church they were taken from was built in the life of St. Hugh of Lincoln and the Church is in the style of York Minster which he also built; I believe - when the Chancel was restored probably abou the early sixties I think they were found under the flooring - I have had them since 1881.2- -



The British Museum analysed their tiles in 2007/8 by thermoluminescence dating and the results said that they were made between 500 and 800 years ago.



Bought along with C.470-1927 from a woman in Exeter.
Historical context
From the same set as eight tiles in the British Museum with subjects from the same source.

The technique used to make these tiles is not widespread. There is only one other recorded instance of a similar tile and that is in
Subject depicted
Literary references
  • Apocryphal gosepels
  • Gospels
Summary
Medieval tiles were normally made by impressing designs into raw red clay blanks. The designs were carved on to wooden blocks. The hollows in the clay were then filled with contrasting white pipe-clay. But the series of tiles found at Tring in Hertfordshire were made in a different way. Here a talented and humorous potter drew the tiles through a coating of white slip. He then scraped the background away to produce a kind of ceramic strip cartoon. The imagery on this tile and on other tiles from this group held by the Victoria & Albert Museum and the British Museum are scenes from the Apocryphal Infancy Gospel of St Thomas and depict scenes from the childhood of Jesus Christ.
Associated objects
Bibliographic references
  • Hildyard, Robin. European Ceramics. London : V&A Publications, 1999. 144 p., ill. ISBN 185177260X
  • M.R. James & R.L. Hobson, 'Rare medieval tiles and their story', Burlington Magazine, XLII (Jan. 1923)
  • W.B. Honey, English Pottery and Porcelain, London: Black, 1947
  • Alun Graves, Tiles and Tilework, V&A Publications, 2002
  • Mary F. Casey, 'The Fourteenth-Century Tring Tiles: A Fresh Look at their Origin and the Hebraic Aspects of the Child Jesus' Actions', Peregrinations: International Society for the Study of Pilgrimage Art, 2007
Collection
Accession number
C.469-1927

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Record createdMay 9, 2016
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