Once I had arrived and started my research on these equestrian tiles, I was told that there were three other equestrian tiles in St Ives. The common knowledge was that Leach had made these three equestrian tiles as well as his two sculptures, but as Matt Tyas and I located and then photographed them, and we scrutinized the images with Peter, we realized that these tiles were made in such a different style that they could not have been made by Leach. However, they were not ancient like the ones in the Royal Cornwall Museum, and were probably made during the 1920s/30s under the auspices of the members of the Cornwall History Society,one of whom was Bernard Leach, and they were all on roofs of homes of old friends of Leach. Understanding their origin and the context of the ancient, the 20thc tiles, and Leach’s response to them, came together slowly over the four weeks in St Ives, and continues as we hope to write an article about their history. Leach’s equestrian tiles are, in themselves, a response to a long tradition of horse and rider tiles. 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.
When we had slowly reconstructed the story of what we think is the history of Leach’s and the St Ives tiles, I realized, though foreigner I am, that I have joined the chain of response to this charming and evocative image of horse and rider