17 January 2016

Cardiff: Welcoming doors

One of the loveliest aspects of Cardiff’s old Victorian and Edwardian houses is their entranceways.

The doors are frequently painted in vibrant reds, blues and greens, and they often have unusual-shaped windows inset into their upper sections, some of which are filled with plain glass, others with prettily patterned stained glass designs. It is also common to see panels of decorated tiles on either side of the doors, often with Art Deco-style patterns fired into them. Many doors feature rectangular or arched windows above and at the sides, to allow light to filter into the hallway beyond, and some of the older entranceways still retain the charming wrought-iron and glass porches that help protect those entering and exiting the house from inclement weather.

Where they have survived the ravages of time and foot traffic, some of the pavements leading up to the doorways are tiled in colourful geometric designs. Many of these tiles and designs were from the factory of J. C. Edwards & Co of Ruabon, a town in North Wales famous for its clay and terracotta ware, and you can see a page of tessellated and encaustic tile designs from an Edwards catalogue to the right here. Ruabon’s clay manufacturing was so well esteemed that the town was, at one time, affectionately known as ‘Terracottapolis’. (There will be more on J. C. Edwards and his terracotta products in a future blog.)

Sadly, not every entranceway looks as lovely as those shown here. Some house-owners have removed the lovely old doors and replaced them with double-glazed plastic monstrosities, practical perhaps but often exceedingly ugly. Wrought-iron porches have crumbled and been dismantled, tile panels have been painted over, and pavements have been replaced with dreary grey paving slabs.

This blog is intended as a pictorial celebration of how beautiful these architectural features can be, and a shout out to all those wonderful home-owners who value and care for these historic treasures.