Medieval Floor Tile “Quilts” in the Churches of Dublin

In my mind, I write blog posts all the time – whenever I find something interesting, or see something new, or just want to share what I am working on.  In reality, if you look at the archives for this blog, you will see that I really do not post very regularly.  Recently I had the opportunity to visit Dublin Ireland.  I was determined to blog each day about everything I saw and did.  Blame it on being tired from touring all day, or not having my laptop (I really do not enjoy typing more than a few words on my phone.), or maybe it had something to do with the pubs on every street corner in Dublin….for whatever reason, no posts were written during the trip.  However, now that I am back home and have had a chance to review my photos, there are a few things I really want to share.

My first day in Dublin, I rode the on-off city tour bus to get a feel for the city.  Since it was a Monday and many of the sites were not open, I chose to visit the churches.  My first stop was Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.  It is said that St. Patrick baptized converts to Christianity at a well that once existed next to the present church and a church has stood at this location since the fifth century.  While the church was indeed very beautiful, what caught my eye and really drew me in were the richly colorful medieval floor tiles.  It looked like the floors were covered in quilts!  I couldn’t stop taking pictures and here are a few of my favorite sections.

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Not only "quilted" tile floors, but needle pointed kneelers.  Textile inspirations everywhere.

Not only “quilted” tile floors, but needle pointed kneelers. Textile inspirations everywhere.

Then it was onto Christ Church Cathedral, where I was delighted to see to see more floor tiles and a touching quilt made by to honor an HIV Women’s Health Group.

Elaine iPhone 130803 138Elaine iPhone 130803 146Elaine iPhone 130803 145Elaine iPhone 130803 153Elaine iPhone 130803 155I picked up a small book about the tiled floors and learned that most of them were made up of 19th century copies of medieval tiles found during the restoration of the churches.  The original tiles from the Middle Ages were made from earthenware clays and formed in molds and either left plain or decorated with patterns impressed with a metal or wooden stamp.  The designs included florals, lion heads and other animals, letters and geometric motifs.  While visiting a museum later in the week, I saw some of the original tiles and was surprised that the colors were equally as vibrant as the restoration tiles.

Although I probably missed a lot of significant historical information because my head was down looking and photographing the floors of these beautiful churches, what a lovely surprise to find so much pattern and color inspiration at my feet.  Indeed a memorable day in Dublin.