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Each face of the Rosario's doors purloined by Sir Francis Drake, are 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, prevalent in Tudor houses.

LINEN FOLD 4_edited.jpg

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.


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


This design originated in 16th-century Flanders, which was under the control of the Spanish. If you look at 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. Their ends also vary in length and some are finished with a 45 degree cuts.

The design doesn't remind me of folded linen - to me it has echos of ancient mariners' rolling rulers.

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