This section is from the "An Architectural And Historical Account Of Crosby Place, London" book, by Edward L. Blackburn. Also see Amazon: An Architectural And Historical Account Of Crosby Place, London.
It has been previously observed, that a horizontal cornice, broken by the descent of the main springers, terminates the roof above the lateral windows. This cornice surmounts an open-panelled freize, filled in with flowered quatrefoils; and an appropriate finish to the windows is obtained by the adoption of oaken spandrils, enclosing similarly pierced arches to those of the roof, which fill up the spaces over and between them. The curved lines of the spandrils go down as low as the principal roof-corbels, and form, as it were, the hood-mould of the window arches.
* "Historical and Antiquarian Notices of Crosby Hall".
As an early specimen of this mode of decoration, Crosby Hall is singular. Much ornament in wood was not prevalent, until a late period, on the walls: and the general use of the drapery moulding or cornice from which the arras was hung, Aubrey says, is not older than tempo Henry VII. or VIII. Eltham shows nothing of the kind below the upper cornice, and the walls are all worked fair to the level of the bases of the windows, from which tapestry was suspended. This is also the case here; and in both instances the plaster with which the lower part of the walls was rendered, is still nearly perfect.
On the west side, at the upper end of the hall, stands the oriel, one of the most beautiful specimens of the kind remaining. It occupies the space of two windows, is 10 feet 10 inches wide, and 8 feet 5 inches recessed depth, from the face of the wall, rising the whole height of the room. Its interior plan shows five sides of an octagon, at the angles of which, clustered shafts on bases and octangular plinths, rise to the height of the springing of the hall windows, where they are crowned by similar capitals, from whence main arch-lines diverge into all the ramifications of a richly-groined roof; the minor forming the interior mouldings of the lights. That attention to inferior points, for which ancient Architects were so remarkable, is here strongly instanced; the enriched character in the foliations of the two lower divisions of the oriel lights is not repeated in the upper, which are finished after the same fashion as those of the hall. The lower are similar to those in the windows of the Throne-room.* At every intersection of the ribs of the roof are bosses of sculptured fruit, flowers and armorial bearings, the centre boss being much larger than any of the others, and enriched with the crest of Sir John Crosby - a ram trippant, argent, armed and hoofed, Or. Another smaller boss contains a shield, the charges of which are too imperfect to be recognized. These are the only heraldic remains now discoverable. The outer mouldings of the oriel, like the internal arches of the Throne-room and Dining-parlour, are inclosed in a square head, the spandrils being filled in with circles,cinque-foiled-the whole formed in stone:* and it is remarkable, that one of the main trasses of the roof descends over the centre of the oriel, before it reached the arch of which, it must have been stopped by a corbel projecting from below the cornice. This is also the case in the Throne-room.
* The late Mr. Pugin, in his drawings of the Hall (see his "Specimens," vol. 1.) has omitted to notice this difference. He has represented the peculiar form and enrichment of the cusps as alike in all the stages of the oriel.
On the north of the oriel are the two end windows of the hall, which, corresponding with similar ones opposite, are at a much higher level than those of the side ranges. This was probably for the par-pose of accommodating some kind of ornament on the back and side walls of what was usually denominated the Dais, or "haut pas," from its being raised somewhat from the general level of the hall floor. Considerable decoration was generally apportioned to this part, from its being the spot on which the Lords' Table was placed.* It is singular that Crosby Hall shows no indication of a raised Dais; and the only instance I recollect of a similar departure from the general custom, is to be met with at Sawston Hall, Cambridgeshire, where it is likewise omitted. The date of this edifice, however, cannot be referred to a period antecedent to the reign of Mary.
* In the other windows of the hall, the square-head is formed by the cornice and wood-panelling, before described as filling up the spaces between the window heads.
* Aubrey says, "the Lords of Manours did eate in their greate Gothlcque Halls, at the high table or Oriele, the folk at the side tables." - Aubrey MS.
The walls of the Dais in old halls were usually hung with arras; and this was, no doubt, the method adopted to decorate this part in Crosby Hall, as it was at Eltham and Croydon.* In the latter the tapestry depended from an enriched cornice; in the former, it is probable, from the great difference in the levels of the end and side windows, that it hung from a canopy, extending round the place of the high table, the ornaments of which, being raised somewhat above the line of cornice below the side windows, may have occupied and filled up the space thus reserved.*