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The first flat clay tiles (plain tiles) in England were probably those introduced by the Romans. They manufactured them here too and examples can still be found in the cities, towns and villas that were built during their time in these islands. Medieval masons found them and incorporated some in their walling, though they increasingly manufactured their own plain tiles as a fire-proof replacement for thatch.The pantile with its "S" shaped curve was introduced into England from the Low Countries in the seventeenth century. Its name derives from the old Dutch "dakpan" (roof pan) and the German "pfannenziegel" (pantile). They quickly became popular in the eastern counties of our country where thatch predominated and roofing stone was scarce. In these areas, by the eighteenth century, pantiles were the roof covering of choice for anyone with a reasonable amount of money. Today they are still manufactured, still used for roofs and there are still examples from the earliest times to be seen on roofs, continuing to protect the buildings that often date from centuries ago.
Twentieth century manufacturers of concrete tiles weren't slow to realise the beauty of pantiles and the ease with which they are laid, overlapping each other and hooked over wooden battens. My garage, a modern structure, is roofed with a variant of this design and the tiles have weathered to a quite pleasing dark, mottled hue that in every aspect, except south-facing, grows a patina of moss and lichen. In spring and summer the low parts of the undulating roof surface are favourite spots for house sparrows to sun themselves. When the snows arrive the tiles are quickly covered. However, I always look forward to the thaw because pleasing patterns are made by the retreating snow. Squally March snow showers have afflicted us recently and today's photograph shows the roof after a spell of sunshine had begun to do its work.
photograph and text © Tony Boughen
Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 37.1mm (100mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f5
Shutter Speed: 1/2000
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On