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The Rosario's Doors

LINEN FOLD - an example of 16th-century English engraved panelling used on doors and walls in Tudor times
Linen Fold panelling

Each face of the Rosario's doors taken by Sir Francis Drake, is covered in carved, or relief timber designs over six separate panels. The designs are unlike the English vertical linen fold of the 16th-century, lignum undulatum - wavy wood - that you can see below, and decorating most of the Tudor houses of wealthy owners.

One of the Rosario's engraved timber panelled doors taken by Drake and hung in his home
An engraved timber panelled door

The English design is literally showing folds of material. However, even though the linen panel is carved in relief of little depth, the brilliance of the wood carver has tricked your eyes into seeing folds of material, by cutting the linen at an angle at the top and bottom edges.

If the linen was real and was turned 90 degrees, and allowed to drop as a sheet of material, the edges would appear as saw-tooth designs.

England produced a basic folded design, whereas, in Flanders and in other European countries, more detailed and stylised designs developed... and this is what we see on the Rosario's door panelling.

DOOR PANEL showing the 16th-century Flemish type of timber engraved door panelling
16th-century Flemish type of timber engraved door

If we examine one of the Rosario door panels the design becomes clearer, and shows itself to be completely different to the English basic and literal depiction of folded linen.

This type of design originated in 16th-century Flanders, which was under the control of the Spanish.

DOOR PANEL showing the Flemish type of timber engraved door panelling
Close up of panelling

Examining one of the large vertical elements on the left, and its mirrored image on the right - the ones with the curved bottom edges - they are separated by vertical half rod shapes; inscribed in these are horizontal and, on others, diagonal cuts. The rod ends also vary in length and some are finished with a 45 degree cuts.

The design has echos of ancient mariners' rolling rulers.


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