Clarence Hall Gems – No. 3

Posted: 17th June 2022

The Clarence Hall is not only a lovely old building, but it is also a classic example of Victorian architecture and decor.  Over the next few months, we’ll look at several of the “Clarence Hall Gems”, as we call them, courtesy of Hall Trustee and Director, David Jeremiah.

As the Hall is refurbished over the coming months, every effort will be made to retain its unique character by way of removing, refurbishing and reinstating original fittings.

The Gem to seek out this month is the floor of the foyer.

When the Hall was being built, Britain was in the throes of the industrial revolution.  If it could be made, the Victorians made it – and made it well.  We were also exiting an architectural period called the Gothic Revival and embracing the stylistic Arts and Crafts period – think Knights in Armour and the Marquess of Bute’s remodelling of Cardiff Castle.   The Clarence Hall is Crickhowell’s illustration of this transitional period, and the tiling in the foyer is its epitome.

In Ironbridge, Shropshire, Craven Dunnill and Co, under the direction of C.F.A. Voysey, made these attractive and durable tiles which were transported around the world.  They were used to decorate pubs, shops, hospitals, monuments, homes, and the Clarence Hall.  These tiles were not cheap, but they were the best, which is why they have survived intact.  Interestingly, if you pop across the road and enter Latte-da, there are the very same tiles.  I bet there is a story there!

So when you next stand in the foyer of the Hall, look down and imagine the thousands of feet which have shuffled, walked, and stomped over these tiles.  If you’re interested, look up Craven Dunnill and Co, but either way, consider how well the floor tiles embellish the Hall and how the Hall’s design fits the period of its construction.