Leach Pottery 2014, Traditional Equestrian Ridge Tile Research

Once I had arrived and started my research on these equestrian tiles, I was told that there were three other equestrian tiles still on roofs in St Ives. The common knowledge was that Leach had made these three equestrian tiles, as well as his Horse and Rider1 and 2 sculptures.  Matt Tyas and I located and then photographed the three roof tiles, and as we scrutinized the images with Peter Smith, we noticed that these tiles reflected the traditional styles of the ancient tiles, and it was unlikely that Leach had made them.   However, they were not nearly as weathered as the tiles in the Royal Cornwall Museum.   Then we realized that these three tiles were on roofs of homes of old friends of Leach –  all members of the Old Cornwall Society, as was Bernard Leach.  So in all likely-hood were made during the 1920s by local potteries with the encouragement of the Old Cornwall Society.  The understanding of the origins of all these different tiles came together slowly over the four weeks in St Ives, and continues as we write an article about their history.  The oldest I saw was at the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro, about 15th century, and two 17th century tiles, donated by R.J. Noall, a great collector and expert in Cornwall pottery, and a colleague of Leach’s in the Old Cornwall Society.  Leach’s own equestrian sculptures are, in themselves, a response to a long tradition of horse and rider tiles, and I suppose, my own responses will join what I hope will be a continuum.