Made in Britain: The Winchester Tile Company

The Winchester Tile Company specialises in hand-finished wall tiles.

winchester tile company

Scott Robson, design director at the Winchester Tile Company.

No one is quite sure how the Winchester Tile Company started. It was based in a Hampshire barn and had run into difficulties when, in 1997, it was purchased by the Devon-based company original Style. It moved to Exeter, manufacturing processes were streamlined and the collections widened to make use of Devon clay and other local materials. Today, it’s the foremost company designing and producing tiles using traditional methods in Britain.

‘That’s been very effective for us on the international stage,’ explains design director Scott Robson. ‘Winchester Tiles is entrenched in British style because of its products’ use in domestic Victorian and Edwardian architecture. Americans and Russians, among others, buy into the brand because of its Britishness. I think there’s an instinctive respect for something that’s made in England.’

The company is well known for its traditional moulded tiles—think raised bunches of grapes on Aga splashbacks of about 1988—but the range varies from the classic country-cottage look to more contemporary styles. The tiles pictured come from the company’s Chateaux collection, which takes inspiration from ancient Persia, Turkish kilims, medieval French tapestries and Andalusian pottery.

‘Ceramics isn’t a one-man job. You can have an idea of a design, but you can never tell how it’ll respond to the glazes—they’re very unpredictable. Then you need to look at the repeat and how it looks in the bigger picture. If it’s too “shouty”, it’ll need to be refined,’ says Scott. ‘Designing a new tile using traditional methods is not unlike making a cake—you can put in the right ingredients, but there’s no absolute guarantee how it’ll come out.’

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