The Welsh type of court-cupboard is almost a dresser in form, usually in three stages. The name "tridarn" has been coined to describe these "three-deckers." The balusters of these Welsh cupboards, - which include those from western Cheshire and Shropshire, - are nearly always plain-turned, without carving, and of slender proportions. The decoration is usually in the form of flutes, connected by surrounding incising, as in Fig. 100, or a foliated arching, in low relief, as in Fig. 101. The construction is generally not so finished as in the Home County or the East Anglian types, the doors either mere slabs of wood as in the first, or coarsely framed in panels, as in the second of the examples illustrated here. It is a general rule, but by no means an infallible guide, that the cruder the workmanship, the farther from the border on the Welsh side does the piece originate. Radnor and Denbigh occupied a very high place in the history of English woodwork in the fifteenth century, but this former glory had entirely departed in the seventeenth. The inlaid types of these Welsh three-tier standing cupboards, such as Fig. 102, are usually of finer character, but of considerably later date. Thus this example is not earlier than about 1680, and may be some ten to fifteen years later. The chequered inlay is more pronounced, and with greater contrast of woods, than in the earlier inlaid specimens. It may be remarked, however, that the former fine traditions regarding the selection and cutting of the oak still persisted. It is rare, even in the crudest examples, to find other than selected quartered oak used in their manufacture.
Fig. 104. Oak Court Cupboard. - Date about 1660-70. Messrs. Gregory and Co.
Fig. 105. Oak Court Cupboard. - Date about [660 - 70. - Messrs. Gregory and Co.
Fig. 106. Oak Court Cupboard. - Date about 1680-90. - Messrs. Robersons.
Fig. 107. Oak Court Cupboard. - Date about 1660-70. - C H. F. Kinderman, Esq.
Fig. 108. Oak Buffet. - 4 ft. 4 ins. wide over top, 1 ft. 6 1/2 ins. deep over top, 2 ft 0 1/2 in. height of upper part, 4 ft. 2 1/2 ins. total height. - Date about 1620-30. Cecil Millar, Esq.
Fig. 109. Oak Buffet. - Date about 1640-5. - Messrs. Gregory and Co.
Fig. 110. Upper Part Of Buffet. - 4 ft. wide by 1 ft. 6 ins. high by 1 ft. 6 ins. deep. Date about 1680. - Cecil Millar, Esq.
The Lancashire types of these court cupboards are equally unmistakable to one who has studied many examples which have remained in situ in their county of origin. The difference between these and others from further south and south-west is rather subtle and difficult to explain by illustration alone. The oak, in many instances, either shows signs of staining with oxide of iron, or is naturally of more reddish tint than that of Shropshire. Mouldings are frequently of heavier section; not worked on the styles and rails, but planted on the panels and pinned to the framing. Fig. 103 is an example of this kind. The upper panels have a crude inlay of holly, box and fruit-woods, chopped in the solid oak. The doors above, open with their mouldings without surrounding framings, and the lock is on the cupboard styles, and locks into the door; a reversal of the usual custom. Figs. 104 and 105 show another peculiarity; a conventional ornament neatly grounded out, but with no carving relief, much the same as flat applied fretwork. Sometimes a little incising of the raised ornament is attempted, as in the upper frieze of Fig. 105, and a raised rebated panel ("fielded" is the usually accepted term) as in the lower doors, is occasionally, but rarely, inserted. The chief difference between the court-cupboards from varying localities is in general proportions, and these are difficult of explanation. The pendant acorn of Fig. 105 is a Lancashire device, and also the low upper-part in comparison with the carcase below. This characteristic is still further exemplified in the standing cupboard from Yorkshire and further north. Fig. 106 is of this kind. The cornice moulding is a later addition, and rather spoils the general effect, as cornices of any kind are rare in these cupboards, the tops being closed in by a platform of thin boards, with the grain running from back to front, as pointed out before. These northern pieces are generally simple, with ornament very much in the Lancashire style, but the general proportions are heavier. They are also usually of late date, as a margin of from twenty to forty years must be added to the period of a prevailing fashion, in considering the probable age of north-country pieces. The thin top-boards to the lower part of these standing cupboards should be noted, as this peculiarity will be found in nearly every example illustrated, whether from north, south, east or west of England.
Fig. 111. Oak Buffet. - 3 ft. 9 ins. wide by 4 ft. high by 1 ft. 6 ins. deep. Date about 1670-S0. - Cecil Millar, Esq.