The panellings of the South-west of England vary very little, in the type of pilasters, from those of East Anglia or the home counties, although there is considerable difference in the carving decorations. The Devonshire pilaster is richer in detail, with a long shaft and nearly always with elaborately carved capitals, but there is the same low base and skirting, such as is usually found in the examples from London and its outlying districts. The rounded forms of the Southern-French Renaissance persist for many years in Devonshire, and give a peculiar opulent character to the carving-decoration of this county, which is unmistakable alike in secular or in ecclesiastical woodwork. One of the most remarkable examples of these ornate West-country panellings is the Exeter room in the Victoria and Albert Museum, illustrated here in Fig. 310 and Figs. 312 to 316. For the purpose of showing the difference in decorative character more easily by a comparison of photographs than by a written explanation, a pilaster from Lime Street, which is of London design and workmanship, is placed, in Fig. 311, side by side with those from Exeter. The Lime Street example may be some twenty years the later in date, but the character of these carved pilasters does not alter appreciably from 1600 to 1620.
C.1630. Arthur H. Vernay, Esq.
Fig. 340. Oak Panelling And Mantel From Sherard House, Eltham, Kent. - C. 1630.
Fig. 341. Oak Panelling And Mantel From Sherard House, Eltham, Kent. - Arthur H. Vernay, Esq.
This oak room from Exeter is one of the older acquisitions of the Victoria and Albert Museum, but, in its peculiar richness and strong French character, it is, perhaps, one of the most remarkable examples of pilastered panelling which the Museum possesses. It is totally unlike anything to be met with outside of the West-country. The Holywells woodwork, described and illustrated in the earlier pages of this chapter, is also French in inspiration, but the influence here is from the north, Normandy or Picardy, whereas, in this Exeter panelling it is from further south, the country watered by the Loire, - Anjou or Touraine, or even from Poitou. There is a logical method both of construction and design in this panelling, whether of frieze, pilaster or panel-framing, which is not found in the work of Rouen or the north of France, and, withal, there is an assortment of details, as in the strapping of the base rail in Fig. 312, which indicates an English origin for this woodwork. The frieze panels, four of which are shown in Figs. 313 to 316, show the admixture of Low-Country Italian and Southern-French motives which formed the basis of the later Tudor style, a manner which, although it varies considerably in different parts of England, - as, for example, in Lancashire, Warwickshire and Cheshire on the one hand, and the Home Counties on the other, - yet has a general basic resemblance which establishes both a country and a date of origin. In the oak pilaster from Lime Street, Fig. 311, for example, we have the Home County exposition of the same manner, as it afterwards developed in the hands of London craftsmen. The original source is Italian, but the Exeter panels have this influence transmitted through Southern-French channels, whereas, in the case of the Lime Street pilaster, the design is more typical of the work of Flanders. Even in the Exeter pilasters, which are, in reality, two pairs rather than four, there is, in the shafts, evidence of two designers, both impregnated with the same manner, yet manifesting such influence, each in a different way. In the frieze panels, the same dual authorship can be noted, as in Figs. 313 and 314, for example, or in a still more marked fashion, in Figs. 315 and 316.
Fig. 342. Oak Panelling. - In the Treaty House at Uxbridge. Early seventeenth century.
Fig. 343. Rotherwas, Co. Hereford. - An oak-panelled bedroom. - Early seventeenth century. C.J.Charles, Esq.
Fig. 344. Rotherwas, Co. Hereford. - Oak chimney-piece in the Walnut Banqueting Hall (see Fig. 346). - The shield shows the twenty-five quarterings of the shield of Bodenham.
The arms of Bodenham are a fess argent on field azure between three chess rooks or.
Early seventeenth century.
C. J. Charles, Esq.
In considering the mantel from the old house of Sir Orlando Bridgman at Coventry, now in the Bablake Schools, a doubt was expressed whether such a style as " Elizabethan " could be said to exist, in English woodwork. If we refer to a period only, then the name is justified, but if a homogeneous style be indicated, then it is highly misleading. The Lyme Park mantels are in the late-sixteenth-century manner of their locality (although of a subsequent date), and the same may be said of Devonshire in the case of the Exeter panelling. We have now to see what was done in the rich county of Norfolk at the same period. Here we are considering houses, built not for nobles, but for plain traders, merchant adventurers whose ships sailed into many an unknown sea, whose captains and crews were acquainted with the Spanish Main, who had listened to many a story of El Dorado or Manoa. Hard fighters by sea and land were these men, and, - it must be confessed, - hard swearers and drinkers to boot, ready to defend ship and cargo, and not averse, - be it only whispered, - to engaging in a little buccaneering on their own account.