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Tiles By William Godwin Of Lugwardine

July 28, 2014
by the gentle author

There is spot where my eyes fall as I enter the house between the front door and the foot of the stair, where I always felt there was something missing and it was only when I visited Bow Church this spring to admire C R Ashbee’s restoration work that I realised there would once have been floor tiles in my entrance way. It was a notion enforced when I noticed some medieval encaustic tiles at Charterhouse and began to research the possible nature of the missing tiles from my house.

In 1852, William Godwin began creating gothic tiles by the encaustic process century at his factory at Lugwardine in Herefordshire and became one of the leading manufacturers in the nineteenth century, supplying the demand for churches, railway stations, schools, municipal buildings and umpteen suburban villas. Inevitably, some of these tiles have broken over the time and millions have been thrown out as demolition and the desire for modernity have escalated.

So I decided to create a floor with the odd tiles that no-one else wants, bringing together tiles that once belonged to whole floors of matching design, now destroyed, and give them a new home in my house. Oftentimes, I bought broken or chipped ones and paid very little for each one – but I hope you will agree that together their effect is magnificent.

Encaustic tiled floor designed by C R Ashbee for Bow Church using Godwin tiles

Medieval encaustic tiles at the bricked-up entrance to Charterhouse in Smithfield

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20 Responses leave one →
  1. July 28, 2014

    Yes, they are very beautiful.

  2. marianne isaacs permalink
    July 28, 2014

    There is something really more wonderful about saving something old and making something whole again from discarded things . I love your floor and would love to see more of your abode . Iread about your quilt , fantastic .

  3. July 28, 2014

    Those tiles from former centuries appear today as modern graphic. Astonishing!

    Love & Peace

  4. July 28, 2014

    Lovely designs. Really timeless.

  5. Julia permalink
    July 28, 2014

    The tiles are beautiful — if you do a follow-up post, it would be lovely to see them in situ.

  6. July 28, 2014

    Magnificent indeed. Show us more!

  7. July 28, 2014

    You spoil the quilter i am with these fascinating designs , thank you ! Spitalfields is a mysterious area to me , my daughter lives in Hackney and at my next trip i will explore the neighbourhood carefully with the help of your blog . Warm greetings frrom Paris, Will V

  8. Pauline Taylor permalink
    July 28, 2014

    Yes, I do agree GA, these tiles are lovely, well done for saving them and finding them a place in your home. It is touches like this that make a house a home, no modern minimalism for me!

  9. Wendy Robinson permalink
    July 28, 2014

    Tudor monastery farm on BBC showed the manufacture process of tiles quite similar design. Looks beautiful. Well done.

  10. Jeanie Dee permalink
    July 29, 2014

    Timeless beauty.

  11. July 29, 2014

    I hope we will see a photo of your entranceway once you have finished tiling it. My father bought Spanish styled tiles from a demolished church and used them in an alcove he built onto the living room of our home. I never appreciated how ahead of his time he was with “recycling” in the 1960s, but now I wish I had a few of those tiles.

  12. Pippa Thynne permalink
    September 1, 2014

    Beautiful. My grandfather, Herbert Thynne, was the ‘H’ of H&G Thynne, successors to Godwin & Thynne and Godwin & Hewitt of the tileworks at Lugwardine. My father Denis sadly had to preside over the closure of the tileworks in 1958, which I know hurt him greatly.

  13. April 25, 2016

    Hello, I have enjoyed looking at the photos of the tiles. I have one of William Godwin’s tiles that I am very fond of. William Godwin was my Great, Great, Great Grandfather, both my Grandparents were from Lugwardine. Carrie Griffiths

  14. Anita Syers-Gibson permalink
    October 15, 2016

    I have lived in Herefordshire for 37 years and have just discovered Godwin tiles, which are everywhere. I have visited Lugwardine Chapel and Lugwardine Church where members of the Godwin family are buried and tiles sometimes appear on their gravestones. This week I found that descendents of Walter Godwin live in my parish of Eye. The chancel of our church is paved with Godwin tiles. Can anyone tell me more about Walter Godwin and how he fits into the family?

  15. Garry Weston permalink
    May 13, 2017

    Caroline Griffiths (nee Phillips), William Godwin was my wifes 4x great uncle….

  16. Eleanor cameron permalink
    May 16, 2017

    Walter Godwin was my grandfather. His father worked at lugwardine with his brother who lived in that magnificent house and owned tile factory. Would love to hear more from you and how we are related

  17. Lee Rivers Allworks Properties permalink
    June 2, 2017

    We have purchased the old house turned pub owned and built by William Godwin, We are currently refurbishing the property to make a small hotel, during restorations we have unveiled various tiles painted over in recent years.
    Fortunately many of the original features remain, including magnificent staircase and a tiled floor in the cellar made from factory leftovers and samples which never went into production.
    We will hopefully be reopening late summer 2017.
    Rest assured all tiles have been preserved and this building will be well well worth a visit when it reopens.

  18. Michael Hall permalink
    September 22, 2017

    I and my brothers were born and christened in Eye Parish, Walter Godwin was my grandfather and is buried in the old churchyard, I , with my cousin Elizabeth have done a lot of family history research and can help with any information anyone may need, contact initially by email,

  19. June 21, 2019

    I am the Chairman of “The Friends of Hare Hill House”. It is a Georgian House set in Hare Hill Park, Littleborough, Lancashire. The House was originally built by the Newall family in about 1760. The family finally left the house in 1898. Recently we uncovered a tiled hearth in what was formerly the dining room. Unfortunately, about 80% of the tiles have been seriously damaged by the last owners – Rochdale Council. After some research we discovered that the tiles were designed and produced by William Godwin. We have contacted the V&A who have provided us with some useful information. As there are so few tiles in a reasonable condition we are unable to part with any at the moment (4 will be going to the V&A and another 4 to our local museum). However,as the design on the tiles is not part of the set in your article, if you are interested, I can forward you a photograph of one. One thing that puzzles us is why the Newall family would source tiles from a company over 150 miles from their house in the middle of the 19th century.

  20. Geoffrey R Reeve permalink
    January 4, 2022

    Recently after scrubbing some residue of lime plaster off the back of an encaustic tile with a bird motif on the front, I was able to determine the wording Lugardine, Godwin, Hereford. The bird is undoubtably a pigeon and I also have a mediaeval tile ( in two triangular halves) with the same motif . I guess the more modern one was probably made for Pugin. And incidentally acquired locally, 10 years ago from a salvage yard. Pictures if require.

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