There are no details in this woodwork, apparently, which on the evidence of other panellings of the seventeenth century, would justify a date as late as 1670-80. It is of either Norfolk or Suffolk origin, which is the first significant fact to be noted. Secondly, it is in the East Anglian furniture of the very late seventeenth century that we find this lavish use of the inner framed panel. The joiner-traditions persisted in these counties for many years, both in furniture and woodwork. When such pieces as long settles or benches are found, in these localities, carved with a date, - which is frequently the fact, - this is always later than one would expect, - judging merely by style, - and very often considerably so. We know that the new architects' manner of the large panel found very small favour in East Anglia, other than in the very large houses where the London architect was introduced, and, with him, in all probability, workmen from London. The fashion for painting, and even parcel-gilding of wood panellings was also coming into vogue at this date, and oak was being replaced by red deal. There still lingered, especially among the East Anglian traders who had connections with Flanders, a desire for the small-panelled wainscotting of oak, and these elaborately mitred inner framed panellings became the rule among the merchants of the two counties towards the close of the seventeenth century. There is a strong possibility that much of the furniture which corresponds, very closely, to this panelling in style, was made in the same districts, and for these houses. This, then, is the justification for dating such examples as Fig. 370 as late as 1670-80. The general style, although like some of the work of much earlier date, is quite distinct when examined in detail. It is an earlier manner persisting to a late date, but with considerable modifications.
Fig. 381. Red Deal Panelling And Mantel. - Removed from a house at Leatherhead. - Early eighteenth century. Messrs. Robersons.
It was, more or less, inevitable that an occasion would arise where the substitution of deal for oak, or the use of a plaster wall in place of a wooden panel, would fail to satisfy, and that the large jointed panel would have to be ventured. It is not literally correct, but is sufficiently so for our present purpose, to say that it is the use of large panels of wood, and especially the use of deal, which sharply divides the woodwork of the eighteenth from that of the seventeenth century. The oak room from Clifford's Inn, illustrated here in Figs. 371 to 374, is one of the very early examples of the use of large oak panels in the wainscotting of a room, other than in a large mansion. At Ham House, the panelling in the dining-room, in the same style of projecting panel with large raised bolection moulding, dates from some ten years before, but there is not the same panel area. At Shavington the panels are larger, - in some cases with four, and even five joints in them, - and with chamfered "fields," but the work here is contemporary with the Clifford's Inn room, almost to a year. It was also done for Viscount Kilmorey in the first year of the short reign of James II, and may be said to represent the most fashionable and matured manner of its time. Novel, - as it was for its date, and elaborate as this Clifford's Inn room is, it was made, not for a noble, but for a plain Cornish gentleman. It was in 1674, on the fifth day of February, to be precise, that John Penhalow took possession of a set of chambers in Clifford's Inn. In this No. 3, some twelve years later (another set of chambers was added to the first during that time), this superb panelling was completed and installed. By his agreement with the benchers John Penhalow had the double set of chambers, not only for his own, but for two lives beyond, and he lived here with his panelling for twenty-eight years. After him came his brother Benjamin until 1722, and he was succeeded by the third life, John Rogers. Whether the Penhalows or Rogers, or later tenants, were responsible for the numberless coats of paint with which the rich oak was daubed, it isnot possible to say. Equally obscure is the name of the designer. He must have possessed taste and skill, and withal considerable daring, - or was it want of technical knowledge, - to have designed a scheme requiring oak panels of such large size, often as wide as thirty inches. Whoever he was, whether a pupil of Wren or a craftsman brought by Penhalow from his native Cornwall, he did his work well, selected fine quartered timber, jointed his panels so carefully that even the ray pattern is carried accurately from one section to the other, and in the wealth of fine carving above the mantel, inserted the arms of his patron, Penhalow quartering Penvvarne.
There are four doors to the room, two of the kind shown in Fig. 373, two with scrolled pediments as in Fig. 374, and two windows. The enriched mouldings are in solid oak, but the ornamentation of the mantel and the panels of the door pediments are of lime tree (originally nearly white, but now a warm brown) applied to the oak ground. The ceiling, originally, was of plain plaster. Obviously, it was not removed with the room. The panels, of fine quartered oak, arc flat, without chamfers, and stand forward in front of the face of the framing in the rebates of boldly-projecting bolection mouldings.
Fig. 382. 25 Mortimer Street, London, W. - Door and architrave in carved red deal. 1730-40.
The work may have been inspired from that of Wren or Webb or more probably from both. It has Webb's sections in the enriched mouldings, especialhy in the door architraves and overmantel, and the applied carvings owe much to Gibbons. Yet there is a sense of scale and of restraint, in idea of what could be justified in a room 18 ft. 6 ins. by 14 ft. 10 ins., and with a height from floor to ceiling of only 9 ft. 10 ins., which one would not expect from Wren, Webb or Gibbons, accustomed, as they were, to rooms of vast size. When we approach the direction of Cornwall, we find at Compton, in Wiltshire (the home of the Penruddocks, another Cornish family), in the dining-room, work of similar character, but on a much larger scale. True, at Compton the applied carvings, although without the heavy massing of Gibbons, are still in his manner, whereas in this room from Clifford's Inn it is only the application of pierced and carved work of one wood on another which suggests Gibbons at all. One would like to believe that John Penhalow brought his craftsmen from the south-western counties of England to embellish his London chambers, but the evidence for this is meagre and cannot be relied upon.