20 February 2016

Cardiff: A celebration of tiles

My last two posts have been about the beautiful entrances to some of Cardiff’s magnificent old houses: ‘Welcoming Doors’ focused on the doors and the overall appearance of the doorways, and ‘Up the Garden Path’ looked more closely at the often intricately patterned tile paths leading up to the house entrances. Before I leave this subject, I want to delight your eyes with a look at some of the stunning tiles that decorate the house porches.

Unless the houses have been poorly maintained, which, sadly, is the case in many of Cardiff’s inner-city streets, or an ignorant owner has removed or, worse, painted them over, these gorgeous tiles can still be found throughout the city’s older suburbs.

The designs vary tremendously. Some feature a single pattern running the full height of the porch, others cover the full height but have a different pattern top and bottom. In some porches, the tiles have only been laid on the lower half, with the top halves painted or bricked.

In some streets, every house has the same design and the same colour-way, in others they have the same design but display variations in tile colours. And the designs themselves vary enormously, from simple geometric patterns to elaborate floral displays.

These tiles were perhaps an attempt by early 20th-century architects to brighten up what are otherwise quite monotonous rows of bland and featureless houses. And they provide a glowing testament to the skills of contemporary tile designers and makers. Feast your eyes on these beauties!

Remember, you can click on the photos to see them full screen.

There are similarities from one house to the next. The tiles on the right line the entrance to the house where I'm renting a flat.


The fan design is a popular one, and can be seen in many colour variations.


Variations in colour-ways at left and right, and the same flowers at the top in the centre photo.

At right, I've enlarged the image to show the detail in the tiles.


At right and left, the same tiles are used in the bottom panels but with different tiles in the top panels.

Houses in the same street, featuring the same designs.