The door of Brent Eleigh, Fig. 213, is of the vertical boarded kind, iron nailed to a strong cross-battened framework behind, and with moulded ribs and tracery applied. Chelsworth south door, Fig. 214, is of the framed mullion type, with quatrefoiled band round, and headed with tracery in the mullion grooves. Earl Stonham,Fig. 215, is traceried in the solid, with signs of niche-work in the upper panels, now cut flush and defaced.
Boxford south door, Fig. 216, is similar to Chelsworth, with the same quatrefoil band. The tracery is applied, and the oak appears to be riven instead of sawn. Fig. 217 shows the framing and cross-battening of the back. The lower rail of the door is a restoration. Hadleigh south door, Fig. 218, has the same traceried band, on its outer framing, but carried vertically into the moulded transom, with some effect of distortion, as the border continues, in its full width, above. Fig. 219, from Stoke-by-Nayland, is richly carved with figures of saints and angels. It is framed on the fronts with long vertical mullions into a heavy bottom rail, in long straight lines, without transom. St. Michael-at-Plea, Fig. 220, has a mid-fifteenth-century door in the earlier manner, where the ribs are lanceolated and intersected, in direct copy of a Gothic window. Fig. 221 from Dedham is an example of the niched or tabernacle form, where saints are carved with projecting canopies over, here almost obliterated. Below and above is the long crocketted stem of 1450. These doors are completely traceried, with a fixed lunette above the transom, below which the two doors open.
Waldingfield, Fig. 222, has the narrow vertical panels moulded to a central ridge, the embryonic linenfold which marks the latter half of the fifteenth century. The same detail may be noticed in the north door of Boxford, Fig. 223. Kersey west door, Fig. 224, is of simple framed mullioned type with tracery carved from the solid. The large doors, with wicket, from the ruined castle of Framlingham, Fig. 225, have the panels completely moulded, with applied ribs, fixed with large square-headed nails. It will be remarked, at this period, that there is no distinct line of demarcation between church and castle doors, excepting for the flattening, or four centring of the arched head.
Fig. 236. Southwold, S. Doors. - 10 ft, 9 ins. to apex; 6 ft. 9 ins. to springing; 5 ft. 11 ins. wide. Early sixteenth century.
Fig. 237. The Reverse Side Of Fig. 236.
Stowmarket Church, Fig. 226, has the early linenfold type of door, framed with mullions and with sharply ridged panels between. The ribboned and niched border is unusual. The back view, Fig. 227, shows the half-lapped battenirg tenoned into the outer framing, together with the dovetail-jointing of the uprights on the arch-springirg. Great Bealings, Fig. 228, is framed with broad transom below the lancet-head, with solid-carved tracery and ridged panels.
Two rich doors from the first years of the sixteenth century are illustrated in Figs. 229 and 230. Both are framed with slender mullions and broad transoms. In the Stoke-by-Nayland doors the dividing bead is in buttress-form, whereas at East Bergholt, it is turned and richly carved in patterns which suggest the dawn of the Renaissance in England. This is the later type of the two, broader and flatter in the arch, and with the moulded panels finished in the true linenfold manner, whereas at Stoke-by-Nayland, this detail is merely suggested. Stoke-by-Nayland chancel door, Fig. 231, is constructed of planks or boards, carved with the linenfold, and with moulded framing applied, - early construction in a late door.
A fine pair of linenfold doors from Paycockes, Coggeshall, of the framed early-sixteenth-century type, is shown in Fig. 232. At the back is a framing of four cross-rails and four upright styles, tenoned and mortised, the three panels to each door being diagonally cross-braced, the bracings half-lapped to the inside upright styles. On the front, the linenfold is carved in bold relief, and the side posts are surmounted by two figures, of a Crusader and a monk, which support carved and moulded capitals under the elaborate wall-plate.
The beautiful door-posts and brackets, Fig. 233, are taken from a house in Water Street, Lavenham, and show the decorative use of figure sculpture, in the enrichment of the timber houses of the last years of the fifteenth century. The doors are of considerably later date.
Another fine door from Paycockes is given in Fig. 234. It has the appearance of an interior door put to an exterior use. The mason's-mitring of the moulded styles on the outside framing, and the scribing of the central muntins, can be seen in the illustration. It should be unnecessary to point out that the modern method of mitring mouldings by cutting at their ends to an angle of 45 degrees was very rarely practised at this period. Cutting one moulding, in reversed profile over another, - or scribing as it is termed - or butting with square edge and then working the return of the moulding in the solid, - the mason's-mitre, - were practically the only methods which were used in woodwork of this period. The modern mitre appears, and then only in exceptional instances, towards the middle of the sixteenth century.
To this early sixteenth century belongs the oak door with its surround, from Church Farm, Clare, Suffolk, Fig. 235, which may be taken as a representative specimen of a timber house door of the unostentatious kind. The construction of this door is exceptional. On a framed back the front boards are nailed, each with a slight overlap over the next, or clinker-boarded, to use the technical term, the left-hand edge of each (that is, the one which is not hidden by the overlapping of the next) being moulded with a scratch-bead. The original iron strap hinges, which are missing, were cut in across the width of the boards, at varying depths according to the forward projection, as the boards, in cross-section, are arranged thus : Each board is nailed to the framing behind, with four courses of clout-headed iron nails. There are, of course, no vertical ribs, as the construction forbids. This series of oak doors may be closed with the parchemin panel, which is contemporary with the linenfold. At Southwold, Figs. 236 and 237, the parchemin pattern is shown on the front and the linenfold on the back, an unusual degree of enrichment in an early-sixteenth-century door. On the front are several purely Renaissance motives introduced into the upper panels, and on the back the same influence is noticeable in the two upper cross-rails. Fig. 238 is an interesting door from Norwich Castle Museum, square framed with vertical moulded mullions, and with an inscription carved on the two cross-rails as follows : Maria; Plena : Grade; Mater : Mis(ericordie) Remembyr : Willia(m) Lowth : Prior XVIII - The William Louth, or Lowth, referred to was the eighteenth Prior of Walsingham.
Fig. 238. Oak Door. - From Norwich Castle Museum - By permission of Frank Leney, Esq
We have progressed, thus far, from the timber house with its porch and its door, to the Great Hall with open timber roof and the smaller chamber with carved beamed ceiling, and have, thereby, prepared the way for the next two chapters - the most important in the history of English domestic woodwork - where it is proposed to deal with the subject of wall-panellings at some length, and, in a more restricted fashion, with the growth in importance of the staircase, the development of which had the effect of radically altering the plan of the Tudor house, and, in a lesser degree, its elevation also. There are definite types of panelling, both in point of date and locality, which permit of illustration and explanation, whereas this is only approximately true of staircases. It is not that the latter do not vary; they differ with every example. Added to this, staircases are not as plentiful as panellings, for obvious reasons. In the usual house, one, or at the most, two stairways were sufficient for access to the upper floors, whereas nearly every room was panelled as a rule. It is possible, nevertheless, to class them roughly into the early and unimportant - one might almost say, the concealed - the heavy and ornate, and the latest development where the staircase becomes very refined and delicate in its proportions. The last phase carries us past the seventeenth and into the eighteenth century, a period which is beyond the scope of the present book.