Museum of London to expose erotic tiles in City of Seduction one-off for Valentine's Day

By Culture24 Reporter | 31 January 2014

Could this be the rudest set of exhibits in a museum this year? For one night only, a set of saucy slabs are going on show

A photo of a tile showing a couple indulging in a sexual act
Museum of London curator, Jackie Keily, takes a closer look at an 18th century erotic tile© Museum of London
In an upstairs room of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub, following a fire in 1962, a blackened series of complete and fragmentary tiles showing “overt sexual activity” surfaced among the damage.

Easy to take up or cast aside, they may be relics of a brothel or a men’s drinking club of the period. Experts say they could have been revealed from behind boards when required, with the clothes and furniture in each tile depicting explicit scenes from the 18th century.

“For obvious reasons these tiles are not normally out on public display,” says curator Jackie Keily, from the Museum of London, where the tiles have been kept in storage to protect delicate eyes until now.

“Erotic material – such as these relief tiles – was widely available in the 18th century, if one knew where to go and had the means with which to acquire it.

“From the bath-houses of Roman Londinium and the stews of medieval Bankside to the Restoration Rakes and Soho’s swinging sixties, this city has long traded in the currency of sex.”

The inexpensive tiles are shrouded in a mystery belying the in-your-face nature of their content. Firelight on the relief-moulded scenes might once have made them flicker into life, but a strictly over-18s event on Valentine’s Day will give them full exposure at the museum.

“London has always been a hotbed for the seductive, saucy and down-right sordid,” points out Keily.

“We are pleased to show the complete set for the first time ever, just down the road from where they were discovered.”

Dance psychologists, pleasure philosophers and a chance to see the museum’s major exhibition, The Cheapside Hoard, are among the other highlights of the night.

  • Late London: City of Seduction takes place on February 14 2014. Tickets £10/£8.50 (£15/£13.50 with exhibition ticket). Book online.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

A photo of a tile showing a couple indulging in a sexual act
© Museum of London
A photo of a tile showing a couple indulging in a sexual act
© Museum of London
A photo of a tile showing a couple indulging in a sexual act
© Museum of London
A photo of a tile showing a couple indulging in a sexual act
© Museum of London
A photo of a tile showing a couple indulging in a sexual act
© Museum of London
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It is quite a controversal issue and may create much debate on it, but it's a good trail as heritage should be no limitation and open to all. However, it is a different story in Hong Kong as the Hong Kong people may be still conservative to this issue, so it may be ipossible to display them in Hong Kong.
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