There seem to be numerous definitions of this saying but I think my favourite is the Australian which means a night on the bathroom floor after a heavy drinking session! However, the most plausible, to my mind, is cats on the rooftops. Whatever the origin of the phrase, however, the origin of a tile dates back at least 4,000 years and the word is a derivative of the French word ‘tuile’ which in turn is a derivative of the Latin word ‘tegula’.
Tiled surfaces can be found in the pyramids, the ruins of Babylon and Greek cities, Tunisia, Iran and many, many other ancient civilisations.
A Babylonian tiled wall 575BC
Persian wall panel 17th century
Tiles were made in Europe during the 12th century with Holland becoming an important centre for tiles in the 17th and 18th centuries. Tiles were mass produced in Britain during the 19th century. Whilst the Victorians produced many very beautiful and decorative tiles a modern day tile might look like this:
I am not too sure about these next two charity shop finds. I have trailed through hundreds of pictures of tiles and found nothing like them. They are glued so firmly on to some hessian type of material that it would be impossible to remove them without breaking them. There is no visible signature on either so they are a bit of a mystery.