Fig. 350. Rotherwas, Co. Hereford. - Another view of the Julius Caesar Room. - Early seventeenth century. C.J. Charles, Esq.
Fig. 352. Billesley Manor, Warwickshire. - Oak panelling in a Dressing-room. - Early seventeenth century.
H. Burton Tate, Esq,
Fig. 353. Billesley Manor, Warwickshire. - Oak panelling in the Shakespeare Room. - Early seventeenth century. - H. Burton Tate, Esq.
' This old room in the Star Hotel is exceedingly interesting for many reasons. It is probably the most elaborate specimen of late Tudor woodwork of its kind extant, especially when its location in the house of a former Yarmouth merchant is considered. It is in almost perfect condition, very little of the original parts being missing or mutilated, and it has never suffered from subsequent alteration, such as partitioning, replanning or other of the modifications which the room in Sparrowe's House at Ipswich, for instance, has undergone. Another point of great interest to the antiquarian is the late character of the work at such early date. In the absence of historical records it would have been referred almost certainly to the middle Stuart period."
Fig. 354. Billesley Manor, Warwickshire. - Mantelpiece in the Shakespeare Room. - Early seventeenth century. H. Burton Tate, Esq.
The pilaster of East Anglia and the Home Counties in the first years of the seventeenth century is usually much less ornate than the West-country style, with capitals either of plain mouldings or simple flat Ionic form. The shafts are generally carved with a flat strap-work pattern, similar to an applied fret, with little or no undercutting. The general characteristics of early-seventeenth-century East Anglian and Home County panellings are simplicity and lightness of mouldings and general refinement of details. That from the Palace of Bromley-by-Bow, Figs. 327 and 328, may be taken as a type of this kind. This woodwork is an instructive example in two ways. We know its ■actual date, and it is certainty local in make. The panel-arrangement, of a central upright rectangle surrounded by oblong panels, two vertically and two horizontally, with four squares, one in each corner, is, apparently, an obvious one, but is by no means usual in panellings of the seventeenth century. A similar pattern will be noticed again, later on, in an example from Billesley Manor. The mouldings of the pilasters, returning on the upright styles, indicate an early-seventeenth-century detail, as a rule. At an earlier date the base-mouldings were carried round the room in the form of a high dado, as in the two examples from Yarmouth. The mantel of this room is somewhat puzzling. The lower stage, from the corbelled shelf downwards, is undoubtedly coeval with the panelling, but the overmantel has the appearance of a later addition, and possibly from another county. We know that the panelling had been altered considerably in the Palace before it was finally taken down for removal to the Museum. On either side of the mantel two windows had been inserted in the eighteenth century, of a style quite incongruous, as compared with the original work. The chimney-piece must have had a plain back-board originally, on which all the moulding projections returned, but this is now missing, and the heavy shelf-moulding now returns on the panelling at haphazard, with an overhang beyond the styles, and with no attempt at scribing, the result being a gap between the back of the moulding-return and the face of the panel. It is unthinkable that this was the original finish of the mantelshelf in a room of this quality. The overmantel, although the column-bases line with the corbel-strappings of the shelf below, is poor in design compared with the remainder of the room. The central coat of arms overpowers the whole composition, and the niches on either side are crested with meaningless fret-and-strap spandrels, the same work, with a coarseness almost Lancastrian, being used for a totally superfluous pediment. If this overmantel be an afterthought, it must be almost a contemporary addition. An examination of dates may suggest a reason. James I had been on the throne of England barely three years when this room was panelled, and it is doubtful whether he had adopted the unicorn, as the sinister supporter to the Royal Arms, at this period. The date, 1606, is also that of the completion of the Palace; the work may have been in progress before the death of Elizabeth. It is possible that the room was completed with the mantel only, and plain panelling above, - which would be the logical finish in a room of this height, - the overmantel, designed round the carved coat of arms, being added a few years after. It is, certainly, a piece of unfortunate designing in an otherwise exceptionally refined room.
Fig. 355. Billesley Manor, Warwickshire. - Oak panelling in the Dining-room. - Early seventeenth century. H. Burton Tate, Esc.
Fig. 357. Billesley Manor. - Oak slab doors with steel box locks. Early seventeenth century. - H. Burton Tate. Esq.