Along with his own tiles, Mercer collect tiles from around the world. The above image is from a display in the Saloon of Delft Tiles from the 1600’s.
The origin of the Dutch Delft Tiles began in Egypt with Arabic (Islamic) themes and designs. As Islam expanded to North Africa and Moorish Spain in the 4th – 6th century, so did the art and ceramic tiles. The Alhambra in Spain is covered with such tiles. Antwerp, Holland was a major seaport and trading center in the 15th and 16th centuries. In 1585, during the Eighty Years War, Antwerp was taken by the Spaniards. Trade came to stand still, freedom of religion was put to an end. This resulted in many tradesmen going abroad. Among them were the potters, who left for England, Germany and the Northern-Netherlands. This was the basis for the Dutch Delft Tiles.
Below is a display, also in the Saloon, of Delft tiles in the mid 18th century. Notice how the designs have evolved to Northern European motifs.