Delft tile of a dolphin

Contributed by Cornwall Museums

Delft tile of a dolphin

THIS OBJECT IS PART OF THE PROJECT 'A HISTORY OF CORNWALL IN 100 OBJECTS'.

GODOLPHIN HOUSE. Godolphin House was once the largest house in Cornwall with a colonnaded front and 48 hearths [fireplaces]. Dating from 1690, this tile is part of the pattern of tiles set around one fireplace in the Godolphin Room. Having a Dutch tile fireplace was a status symbol, especially in a second home. It shows how wealth from tin mining allowed the mine owners to commission high quality decorative items from other countries for their homes.

The theory is that this and the other tiles were specially made as they are all of sea creatures. The dolphin depicted is an almost exact replica of the funereal crests of the Godolphin family from the late 16th century. The family who lived at Godolphin House were originally Godolghans but tidied their name up to Godolphin when puns on names were fashionable.

Photo: Bernie Pettersen

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