This was an interesting project that I worked on a few years ago. The photo above show the panels in the original room at Henwood Priory, Warwickshire, England. It is the only thing I had to go on. One wall had a fireplace that someone must have blacked out before the auction because it was not part of the sale.
( a note: the photos that I use in this blog are rather large so you can see some of the detail. just click on them to see the whole photo and click again to see them actual size )
The story of the panels journey as best I can find is—-They were built in the second quarter 17th century. They were bought by William Randolph Hearst at some time in the past, and shipped stateside and forgotten. Reading some history of William Randolph Hearst, I find that he was a voracious collector and bought so much stuff during his life, that allot of it was lost or forgotten. His heirs found the panels in a barn and had them auctioned at Sotheby’s in New York on April 16,1998. They were bought by our client and stored in a climate controlled cave in Missouri until they found a wood shop capable of sorting the mess out. That was us. They are all made of English White oak.
I found some history of the building the panels were built for – -
THE PRIORY OF HENWOOD
In the beginning of the reign of Henry II, when Walter Durdent was bishop of Chester (1149-1161), Ketelberne de Langdon founded a priory for Benedictine nuns, dedicated to the honour of St. Margaret, in his lordship of Langdon, in the parish of Solihull. It was built near a fair spring lying to the east of Langdon, and was at first termed Estwell. He granted to the nuns considerable lands at Langdon, with free court and all customs and liberties, with pasturage and pannage, together with the right of taking timber for building their church and dwellings from the woods of Langdon, and leave to erect a mill on any suitable site opposite his own lands. After a time it came to be called Heanwood or Henwood,’ by reason of the tall oaks there growing, the word bean in our old English signifying high.’ (fn. 1)
The Black Death wrought much havoc in the priory. On 19 August, 1349, there was no prioress, ’ and of fifteen nuns which lately were there, three only remain.’ Lady Joan Fokerham, one of the three sisters, was appointed prioress in the following month. (fn. 10)
In 1540 the site and the possessions of the priory were sold to John Higford by the crown for the sum of £207 5s. (fn. 15)
From: ‘Houses of Benedictine nuns: Priory of Henwood’, A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 2 (1908), pp. 65-66. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=36491&strquery=Priory of Henwood. Date accessed: 02 March 2008.
This project had several challenges.
#1 – Try and preserve as much of the original woodwork and layout as possible. Like a doctors oath, “first- do no harm” :)
#2 – Go through the pile of parts and sort – - – measure – - – figure out what part of the panel system that they belonged – - sort out and discard recent repairs – - – and plot the pieces on the computer. I don’t know if the repairs were made to the panels in england, or if an attempt to install them in America was made. I think it was the former because the repairs, while poorly done, were at least made with English white oak.
#3 – Measure the clients room and adapt the panels to his space – - – which had 3 doors and two windows – - and no fireplace. :) Some of this was started by our designer before I took over.
#4 – Figure out a system for the installation, (which we were not going to do), that would make the installers job as easy as possible and the chunks of assembled panel as large as possible.
#5 – Determine how much was missing and had to be replaced. Build, distress, and finish all of the new woodwork so it completely blends with the original woodwork.
#6 – Have fun !!! :)
I will start it up with the next post.
-- Marshall _ Wichita, Ks _ "Growing Old is Mandatory - - Growing Up Is Optional" :)