Conserving 800-year-old tiles at Lacock Abbey

THIS autumn, a National Trust team at Lacock Abbey will be working on the cleaning and conservation of more than 1,000 tiles, dating back to the Middle Ages..

Lacock’s collection of tiles contains medieval tiles, dating from the 1200s to the 1400s, and Tudor tiles, dating from the 1500s. The medieval tiles would have decorated the rooms of the abbey cloister (now so familiar from appearances in Harry Potter, Wolf Hall and the Hollow Crown). The Tudor tiles were custom-made for Sir William Sharington, who bought Lacock Abbey from King Henry VIII after the dissolution of the monasteries.

After centuries of footfall, the British weather and poor storage arrangements (some of the tiles were found buried underground) they are in desperate need of conservation. A team of trained volunteers will be working to clean, process and catalogue the tiles using specialist conservation methods to ensure that the already fragile tiles are not damaged further.

The work will take place over two weeks and visitors will be able to watch the progress, from Monday 2nd to Friday 6th September, and from Monday 14th to Friday 18th October.

Pictured: A Tudor tile from the collection at Lacock Abbey. © National Trust Images / John Hammond