William Morris Swan Tiles

Every man thinks his own geese swans. ~Charles Dickens

Swan Background Tiles

Swan tiles, designed by William Morris in 1862, were sold by Morris, Marshall, Faulkner, and Co. as early as 1863. Between 'The Firm', Morris & Co., and Dutch tile houses, more than a dozen variants of Morris's swan pattern were produced.

More than a dozen verified versions of William Morris's swan tile pattern exist, produced by 'The Firm' (Morris, Marshall, Faulkner, and Co), Morris & Co., as well as the Ravenscroft tile house in Holland. surrounded the fairy tale panels designed by Edward Burne-Jones for Morris, Marshall, and Faulkner. Swan tiles were also sold by Morris & Co. Morris & Co. produced swan tiles well into the 20th century.

Queens' College Overmantel Swans

Early swan tiles (1862-1863) can still be seen at Queens' College. Tiles were painted by William Morris, Ford Maddox Brown, Edward Burne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. This swan variation also appears, with Morris Sunflower and Artichoke, in the Green Drawing Room fireplace at Morris's home, Kelmscott Manor.

Fairy Tale Swan Surround Tiles

Swan tiles were designed as a background for Edward Burne-Jones's bedroom Fairy Tale fireplace overmantel and panels at 'The Hill' (1862-64). The Fairy Tale Tiles were designed by Edward Burne-Jones and painted by Lucy Faulkner.

Made about the same time as the Queens' College tiles, the swan tiles surrounding the fairy tale panels at 'The Hill' are the earliest installation of Morris's swan tile design. The original tiles were 6-inch squares, divided into 36 smaller squares, with unscrolled sprigs of foliage alternating with swans.

Reproduction Fairy Tale Swans

I have four sizes of Fairy Tale Swan surround tiles:

  • the original 36 swans on 6 inch or 8 inch tiles
  • 16 swans on 4.25 inch tiles only.
  • 6 inch by 3 inch tiles, (two rows of 4 or 6 swans)
Both versions works well with the Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Sleeping Beauty tile panels.

Fairy tale swan surround from The Hill, in 36 squares on 6-inch tile Fairy tale swan surround from The Hill, in 66 squares on 4.25-inch tile

The six-inch version is perfect for stair risers. The 4.25 inch swan tiles are intentionally sized to work well as part of Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Sleeping Beauty fireplace panel installations.

Title: Fairy Tale Swan Tiles

Tile: Ceramic

6 inch: 36 swans

4.25 inch: 16 swans

3 x 6 inch: two rows of 4 or 6 swans

See How to Order Tile.

scroll separator

Fairy Tale Swan Pricing

Pricing is the same for all the swan tiles.

3 x 6 inch tiles: $42

4.25 inch square tiles: $44

6 inch square tiles: $55

8 inch square tiles: $92

Kelmscott Manor Fireplace Swans

Designed by William Morris, this version of the original pattern was Dutch made, probably by Ravesteijn Tileworks in the 1880s. With the Morris sunflower, artichoke, and "Tulip and Carnation", swan tiles in this pattern are found in the Green Drawing Room fireplace at Kelmscott Manor.

Also see: The Green Room fireplace tiles.

Victorian Cobalt Blue Swans

Some later Victorian-era swans have a strong cobalt color. These stylized swansare reminiscent of the stylized Scottish Arts and Crafts movement that occurred in the 1880's and 90's, almost 30 years after Morris had established his first shop in London. Some later variants of the swan tiles feature scrolled foliage.

Kelmscott swans, alternating boughs and swans, 6 inch tile Kelmscott swans, five swan variation on 4.25 inch tile, alternating with boughs Kelmscott swans, five bough variation on 4.25 inch tile, alternating swith swans

Title: Cobalt Swans

6 inch: 16 swans

4.25 inch: 9 swans

3 x 6 inch: 8 swans

Late 'Arts & Crafts' Morris and Co. Swans

Arguably the most popular swan pattern and sold by Morris and Co. well into the 20th century, these tiles consisting of 16 squares of alternating swans and scrolled boughs. These stylized swans were produced at least 30 years after Morris started having the Swan pattern made in Holland.

Each 'Arts & Crafts' swan tile features 9 or 16 squares of alternating boughs and swans, on a 4.25 inch tile. These swans do not have the external border.

16 inch late swan version tile. Unbordered swan tiles left version with four swans, alternating with boughs Unbordered swan tiles right version with five swans, alternating with boughs

Title: Borderless Swan Tiles

Tile: Ceramic

6 inch: 16 swans

4.25 inch: 9 swans

3 x 6 inch: 8 swans

Historic Swan Tiles

'The Hill' Swan Background in Fairy Tale Panel

'Edward Burne-Jones Sleeping Beauty tiles with swan surround 'The Hill' format for the installation of swan tiles

Kelmscott Manor Swans in the Green Drawing Room Fireplace

Green Room fireplace featuring Morris sunflower, artichoke, and swan tiles

Queens' College Overmantel: Margaret of Anjou

Swan field tiles for the Labors of the Month at Queens College overmantel, produced by Morris and Co. Margaret of Anjou, addition to the Queens College overmantel, produced by Morris and Co.