There is an ancient English expression, "put t' duur i' t' hoile" (put the door in the hole), which comes down from the times when the door was not fastened by hinges and did not swing into place, but had to be lifted up and placed over the door opening. When the door was opened it leaned against two stakes driven into the ground, or some similar support. These old doors were very small, as compared with our modern doors, and were probably made of light wattle, for we read in some old rhymes of throwing doors and windows on the attacking enemy. Even when solid-wood doors were used they were made of one piece of wood. Doors made of a number of planks of wood fastened together by battens or ledges were a later type. It was noticed that these sagged when hung in position and cross bracing was found necessary. These old batten or ledged doors were swung on pivots of wood which rested in sockets bored into the lintel and the sill. These pivots were called harrs, and later were made of iron. The evolution of the hinge idea from the harr is shown in a series of drawings. For many years these great hinges became a very decorative part of the door, and great care was taken with their designing. Our modern butt is quite the opposite in its characteristics, for instead of being a feature upon the face of the door it is completely hidden, except the socket and pin.
In building the old ledged doors, the planks were set vertically and held together with battens through which were driven wooden pegs. The ends of these pegs were chamfered, and a curious mark of tradition can be noted in the later doors, which were fastened with iron pins that were also chamfered on the ends, like the wooden pins. Later construction of doors shows the use of weather-stripping over the vertical joints and also the use of various layers of planks, with their grains running at right angles in each alternate layer. The end timber upon which the harr was placed was thicker than the planking, and later the timber upon the opposite side was made heavier in order to strengthen the crude locks. With this change and the moving of the battens to the upper and lower edges of the door, and the introduction of weather-stripping over the cracks between planks, there was created the prototype for the modern panelled door. It was only a slight step from this to frame the styles, top and bottom rails, and lock rails around the panels between them.
An old English ledged. Door.
Development- of -the door Hinge.
Another type of door that was of traditional construction, and from the name of which we derive our word hatch, was the so-called "heck-door." This door corresponds to the common "dutch-door," which is familiar to us in Dutch Colonial houses. It was capable of being opened in two halves; the upper half could be swung in without the lower half. This type of door was invented from the necessity of protection against the sudden intrusion of strangers and also small animals, like pigs and hens.
The oldest method of fastening doors was to draw a long bar across them on the inside, very much like the bars which were used in Colonial houses in this country. A hole was cut into the jamb into which this bar could be run when locked, and in the opposite jamb was another hole into which it could be slid out of the way. The disadvantages of this type of door fastening was that it could only be fastened and unfastened from the inside. This led to other devices, such as a bolt that could be operated from the outside and a latch that could be lifted by a string, or a hole was cut in the door through which a small bit of metal could be passed that could be used as a lift for the latch.
To-day we think of locks and bolts and latches as distinct, but this was not so at the time they were being evolved. Our word lock was used in the sense of securing the door in any manner. But gradually, as, step by step, the various mechanisms for locking a door were developed, the word became limited in its meaning, although we sometimes use it to-day in the sense of closing the door.