In very rare instances the joists of the floor above were covered on the under face with close boarding, as in Fig. 205, to form a ceiling. The small ribs have a value beyond: that of mere decoration, in stiffening the boards and preventing sag. The boarding here is of finely figured quartered oak, V-jointed, of about three-eighths of an inch in thickness. The ribs are moulded and have carved cusped bosses at their intersections. There are signs of painting, probably original, in the quirks of the mouldings of this ceiling. With the Gothic pre-eminent, until the early years of the sixteenth century, there is not the difference one would expect to find in decorative treatment between doors.
Of churches, castles or timber houses. Stone or brick can be built in sections, in the form of a lancet arch, whereas with timber it is necessary to cut the shapes from huge pieces of oak. The high springing of the door heads, which is usual in churches and stone-built castles, is, therefore, usually absent in timber houses, where the head is flattened. We cannot compare early church doors of the fourteenth century with those in timber houses of the same date, as the latter do not exist.
The early and rather crude types of doors of the fourteenth century were constructed externally of vertical boards with dowelled, rebated or tongued and grooved joints. They were laminated, internally, with horizontal close-boarding, the whole being fastened together with heavy wrought nails, generally decorated with elaborate ironwork, the design and the fixing spikes of which assisted in the construction, as at Elmsett Church, Fig. 206.
Another type was constructed with horizontal spaced battens fixed across the inner face of the vertical boards, long nails being driven through from the face and clinched over the battens. The joints were usually dowelled to prevent the sagging of the board. A further advance in bracing was the halved-framing of vertical and horizontal, or diagonally arranged, battens, constructed to form a complete frame. Tracery and half-mullions were applied to enrich the face in many instances.
Fig. 231. Stoke-By-Nayland, Suffolk. - Chancel Door. Early sixteenth century.
Fig. 232. Paycockes, Coggeshall, Essex. - Carved Oak Doors and Surround. 10 ft. 5 1/2 ins. to apex; 9 ft. 2 1/2 ins. to springing; 7 ft. 11 ins. wide. - Early sixteenth century. Noel Buxton, Esq.
Fig. 233. Lavenham, Suffolk. - Carved Oak Door Framing from a house in Water Street. Date about 1490-1500.
Fig. 234. Paycockes, Coggeshall, Essex. - Oak Door. Early sixteenth century. Noel Buxton, Esq.
The later framed doors were constructed of two massive curved styles, chosen from the naturally bent growth of the timber, mortised together at the apex, and with the bottom rail tenoned into them at the base. Vertical mullions grooved to receive panels were framed within, and further strengthened by rails, halved over the inner face of the mullions, and either tenoned or dovetailed into the styles.
The framed door with transom followed, and was, otherwise, similarly constructed. The styles were decorated, upon their faces, with carved quatrefoils, vine-trails (in which were introduced the forms of birds and grotesque beasts), figures of the Apostles, and saints in tabernacled niches crowned by the figure of Christ or the Holy Mother.
Doors can be roughly arranged, chronologically, in the following order : Laminated boarded.
Laminated boarded with applied mullions.
Boarded and ledged.
Boarded and half-jointed; framed on the inside. Framed with mullions and panels. Framed mullions and panels with transom. Completely panelled.
As a general rule, large doors with a wicket are late in the history of door development.
All these doors copy the traceried windows of their time, in general effect, very closely, the tracery patterns of both developing nearly on parallel lines. Towards the sixteenth century, doors are constructed in a similar way to panellings, framed with heavy styles and rails, grooved to receive panels. It is at this date that we get the late-fifteenth and early-sixteenth-century types of decoration, the linenfold and the parchemin panels. At all periods the double doors of large size are usually furnished with a smaller door, or wicket, as at the Strangers' Hall, Fig. 2I0. Here the later overhanging porch cornice is supported by grotesque brackets, carved with considerable vigour, shown in Figs. 211 and 212.
Fig. 235. Oak Door And Framing - Early sixteenth century. Victoria and Albert Museum
Figs. 207 to 209 show the fifteenth-century types of chancel or priests' doors. Needham Market is the older solid construction with heraldic carvings in low relief - now considerably defaced, - Barking vestry door has the moulded mullions with applied tracery between, and Key Church priest's door has the vertical moulded ribs secured by heavy iron nails with facetted heads.