This panel of ten Damascus tiles was the very first object Cockerell acquired with the Friends’ subscriptions. He bought it at Christie’s on 26 February 1909 and brought it to the Fitzwilliam on 5 March. Staff, Syndics and Honorary Keepers gathered to admire the tiles. Cockerell was delighted and proud of the first purchase made with money he had raised himself.
A tribute to William Morris and Wilfrid Blunt, the panel was a manifestation of Cockerell’s strong taste for the arts and crafts of the East. It was two more decades before he managed to acquire two of William Morris’s own panels of Damascus tiles. He bought them from William Morris’s younger daughter, May, in 1928 and it was the Friends that provided the necessary sum.