( Originally Published Early 1900's )
PANELLING was probably first used in this country during the 13th century, although very little of the work of the early Gothic periods has survived to the present time. The primitive form probably consisted of vertical boards nailed to the wall with their edges over-lapping, and having a plain capping moulding at the top. The more generally recognised form was framed together, and became more common towards the latter part of the Gothic period. Early panelling of this type had small panels and comparatively wide framing, the former being made of such a width that they could be cut from single boards without the necessity of joining two or more boards together. Panelling did not, as a rule, rise to the full height of the room, the upper portion being occupied by a frieze of either plaster or wood. It was made in sections in which the horizontal rails ran to the full length of each section, the vertical rails being tenoned between them, as shown in A and B, Fig. 43.
The horizontal rails were, as a rule, moulded at their lower edges and bevelled at the top. The vertical members were also moulded on both edges, the intersecting joints being finished in various ways. Fig. 45 shows the principal methods employed. At A the lower edge of the horizontal rail is square, the moulding consisting of a simple bead worked a short distance from the edge, so that the top end of the vertical member is simply butted against it. The lower end is cut askew to fit over the bevel worked throughout the length of the upper edge of the horizontal rail.
At B the bead is worked at the edge. In order to retain the square joint it is only worked at those places adjacent to the panels. The bottom is finished in a similar way, the bevel being stopped at either side of the joint.
A further step is shown at C, where the mason's mitre is used at the top. The horizontal moulding on the lower edge is of the same section as that on the upright rails, and is stopped at either side of the joint, and then finished off in the form of a mitre after the framing has been put together. It will be noticed in all cases that the joints are pegged, no glue being used to secure them.
Panelling of the Gothic periods was usually made in long stretches without interruption, and was either plain or decorated with linenfold panels and other Gothic details. In the first half of the 16th century the linenfold was still a favourite feature, although in many examples a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance details was used. In the room from Waltham Abbey, now in South Kensington, practically the whole of the panels are decorated with medallions, one of which is shown at A, Fig. 47. A and B, Fig. 46, show two favourite Gothic panels, the former consisting of interlacing straps with scrolled ends and vine carving, and B a typical linenfold panel. In C the background is filled in with a black composition.
Typical portions of Tudor Gothic panelling are shown at A and B, Fig. 43, in which A is embellished with the linenf old panels.
During the Elizabethan and later Jacobean periods a prevailing practice was to break the stretches of panelling with pilasters, these being usually in the form of debased versions of the classic orders, or carved with caryatid figures supported by pedestals. The whole treatment became very decorative and elaborate, and in many instances departed from a series of plain regular rectangular panels, various combinations of arcadings, lozenge panels, and the so-called five-panelled arrangement being adopted. At Lyme Park (Fig. 22 and at A, Fig. 44) both portions of Elizabethan panelling exemplify the stage of ornateness to which the panelling, attained.
It will be seen that the panels are proportionately wider than in the previous Tudor Gothic period. Inlay was also used for decorative purposes, as at Sizergh Castle, shown in Fig. 16.
A piece of Jacobean panelling is shown at B, Fig. 44, and shows the use of the five-panel arrangement. Panelling of the second half of the 16th century and the early part of the 17th century was often carried up to the full height of the room, as at Bromley-by-Bow (Fig. 29).
Three panels showing typical Elizabethan and Jacobean details are given in B, C, and D, Fig. 47. The two latter are characteristic types of arcading. The panel mouldings of these periods were usually mitred at the corners, as shown at D, Fig. 45, and should be compared with the previous methods.