Not far from the world-famous Ironbridge in Shropshire is the village of Jackfield where two 19th-century tile manufacturers were founded.
Tiles made by these companies – Maw and Company and Craven Dunnill – were exported as far as India, Russia and the USA, and also supplied the Houses of Parliament, the London Underground and domestic shops and homes.
You can admire, touch and even walk on some of the manufacturers’ finest designs in the Jackfield Tile Museum, which today occupies the buildings that housed Craven Dunnill.
Visitors to the museum can learn how transfer-printed, encaustic, embossed, dust-pressed, tube-lined and hand-painted tiles were made. They can also admire reconstructions of a 1930s parlour with a jousting knights fireplace and Covent Garden Underground station – both resplendent in a multicoloured array of tiles that made the Shropshire manufacturers such a success.
Particularly impressive is the tiled medieval hunting scene, which graced the walls of Charing Cross Hospital. A superb example of a hand-painted Humpty Dumpty panel from the King Edward VII Hospital, Ealing is also worth a look, as is the colourful carousel which once cheered the children’s ward of the Middlesex Hospital.
Finally, don’t forget to visit the old board room, the gas-lit offices and a gallery which tells the story of the area’s minerals and geology.
Don’t miss: The Coalbrookdale cast-iron radiator cover from the late 1800s, decorated with wonderful pierced tiles.
Jackfield Tile Museum
Jackfield, Telford, Shropshire
Open daily 10am–5pm (10am–4pm 26–31 Dec).
Adults £5.95, over 60s £5.45, children/students £4.25
Ironbridge tourist information: 01952 884391