Fig. 358. Billesley Manor. Steel Box Lock. - 14 ins. long by 9 3/8 ins. extreme height. - Early seventeenth century. H.Burton Tate, Esq.
A very charming expression of this strap-work style, also of Home County origin, can be seen in Fig. 329, a chimney-piece of oak, made without overmantel, the intention being to carry a flank of the room panelling over the mantelshelf. Fig. 330 shows a free copy of this mantel with its missing shelf-returns replaced, and surrounded by panelling in this manner. The effect is simple but very charming, when compared with the very ornate chimney-pieces of this period.
It is inevitable that the Home County expression of the Renaissance during the last quarter of the sixteenth and the opening years of the seventeenth centuries should vary according to the inspiration of the designer or the skill of the workmen. Such details as the interlacing strap-work and scrollings, applied keystones, bosses, diamonds or split balusters, appear to be general in this work, although the degree of artistic skill with which they are used ranges from the highest quality to the mediocre. To the first belongs the charming oak panel, Fig. 331. Both design and execution are superb, suggesting the hand of a foreign carver, whether from France or Flanders, it is difficult to say. The influence of Jean Goujon is apparent, but his strap-work, as at St. Maclou, is here intermingled with the Italian motives of wreath and ribbon in a manner which is foreign to his style. The wood is English quartered oak, a timber usually harsh and ungrateful for fine cutting with the carver's gouge, yet the work here is of the uttermost refinement and delicacy. The treatment of the interlacing of the strap-work forming the surround to the egg-and-tongue-carved inner frame is masterly. The same handling, in stone instead of wood, can be remarked in the mantel lining of Fig. 329, which is unmistakably an English production, however strongly influenced it may be from abroad. It suggests that this panel may be of English origin also.
Fig. 359. The Reverse Side Of The Lock, Fig. 358, Showing The Armourer's Mark. - 3>7
Fig. 360. Billesley Manor. Steel Box Lock. - 14 1/2 ins. long by 9 ins. extreme height. - Early seventeenth century. H. Burton Tate, Esq.
There are few, if any, details in English furniture and woodwork which persist for so long as the fret (applied or cut in the solid wood) with enrichments of splitbalusters or bosses. This "strap-and-jewel" work is found in panellings and chimney-pieces even as early as the closing years of the sixteenth century; it is also met with on cabinets and chests as late as the last quarter of the seventeenth. The reasons for this popularity are not difficult to surmise; this decoration has the merit of cheapness; it permits of the use of various woods, such as bog-oak, for the bosses or balusters, and it gives an effective play of light and shade, and by the most simple means. The three mantels from Lime Street, in the City of London, illustrate this very well. The designs are exceedingly effective, yet there is a remarkable absence of expensive work. They could be reproduced, by modern "mass-production" methods, almost without modification. The moulded oval panel, quartered and strapped over with moulded keystones, is used with considerable skill for this period, in Figs. 332 and 334. In the first the relief is by means of facetted bosses; in the second these take the form of turned buttons. In all four, Figs. 332 to 335, effective use is made of the split-baluster and the oval or circular boss. The charm of all clever designing, - the introduction of the unexpected, - is fully understood. There is the play of line in the key-cornering of the framings in Figs. 332 and 334, in the framed tablets of Figs. 333 and 335, in the first, with the mouldings broken up by the lateral and vertical strappings, in the second, by the clever mitring of the inner framings. The pilasters, with their downward taper, are redeemed from mediocrity of design by the applied frets and split balusters, an effect achieved with the uttermost economy of means. In Fig. 332, the dentil-course under the cornice is mitred forwards in four distinct stages (an extravagance), whereas in Fig. 333, the breaks are formed by cutting the dentil-course, and inserting the moulded cappings to the tablets of the frieze; and economy could go no further.
Fig. 361. Billesley Manor. Steel Box Lock. - 14 3/8 ins. long by 9 1/2 ins. extreme height. - Early seventeenth century. H. Burton Tate, Esq.
Fig. 362. Billesley Manor. Steel Box Lock. - 12 ins. long by 8 ins. extreme height. Key 7 ins. long over all. - Early seventeenth century. H. Burton Tade, Esq.
This Home County expression of the Renaissance, the credit for the development of which can be divided equally between Flanders and Northern France, - Rouen and its neighbourhood, - is interesting, the more especially as so many examples exist of which both the date and the locality of origin are known with certainty. Thus, the front of Sir Paul Pindar's house, Fig. 336, formerly in Bishopsgate Without, shows what was the fashion in London in 1600. Sir Paul Pindar was Ambassador at Constantinople from the Court of James I between 1611 and 1620. Bishopsgate was a fashionable quarter at this date, containing many important houses, such as Crosby Hall, for example. In the panels of this timber house is the vigorous manner of paper-scrolling, or voluting, which was the 1600 London fashion, as perpetuated in the Coventry mantel already illustrated in Fig. 300, together with design-motives culled from an even earlier date and another district. In every detail of this Bishopsgate house, in panels, pilasters or brackets, is the expression of what may almost be described as the true Elizabethan style, so often confounded with the work of the later Stuart period, and yet both unmistakable and widespread. It can be found as far north as Levens Hall in Westmoreland and as far south-west as Lanhydroc in Cornwall. It is also the direct progenitor of the woodwork such as the Lime Street mantels.