So far, no nearer approach to the status of the practising architect of today had been reached than that of the master builder, but in Elizabeth's time individual designers, who submitted plans and sketch designs—known as " drafts "—for houses of distinction, made their appearance. In 1563 John Shute, who seems to have studied in Italy, published his "Chief Grandes of Architecture," with drawings of the " Orders," and John Thorpe, Robert and Huntingdon Smithson and Thomas Holt, are English wall panelling oak panelling designers whose names are associated with the greater Elizabethan and Jacobean houses ; they encouraged symmetrical planning wall panelling oak panelling designs, together with elevations distinguished by strong horizontal lines and applied classic " Orders."
Planning on symmetrical lines advanced steadily. The quadrangular plan, frequently with more than one court, was adhered to, but E and H shaped plans, with central block and projecting wings, were favoured because they admitted more light and air, while a spacious walled forecourt ensured a welcoming and dignified approach (Diagram XVIII).
Building materials were the stone, brick and timber of the locality as in earlier days. The external treatment of smaller houses shows little more departure from tradition than the employment of pilasters and entablature about the entrance doorway. Changes of a more definite nature are seen in the greater houses. The entrance doorway usually set in a projecting porch, presents a general use of classic features. The medieval string-course gradually gave way to the classic cornice and various forms of curved gables—of Flemish origin —provided the picturesque skyline which was enhanced by turrets, heraldic finials and lofty chimney-stacks, even when roofs were flat and concealed behind ornamental parapets. Elaboration of wall panelling oak panelling designs detail has seldom been carried further than in Elizabethan and Jacobean houses, and gateways, balustrades and even rain-water heads (Page 13), were singled out for display. Square-headed mullioned windows were universal and the bay window maintained its importance and was often carried the whole height of the house.
Dunham Massie, Cheshire in the XVIIth Century. Rebuilt, 1721
The Great Chamber South Wraxall, Wiltshire
Lead Rainwater Heads - Abbot's Hospital, Guildford
Passages and corridors were fitted with wall panelling oak panelling afforded improved access to rooms on all floors and three especially characteristic features are the long gallery, the great staircase and the internal lobby. The gallery, conducive to the enjoyment of music and the display of pictures, usually occupied the whole length of the house on the topmost floor. The hall had now become a fine entrance vestibule and its importance diminished with the provision of more private apartments. Broad staircases, with short straight flights and wide landings, tall newel posts with ornamental tops, and flat or turned balusters came into fashion in place of the old circular newel staircase. Towards the middle of the XVIIth century strapwork balustrading was occasionally used instead of balusters.
New ideas were freshly expressed in the wall panelling oak panelling designs for the decoration of the interior. The xvith century established its own standard of stateliness and dignity, as well as of comfort, and it required that walls, fireplaces, ceilings and staircases should be ornately treated. In oak panelling, the " linen-fold " gave way to plain panelling in a variety of rectangular shapes, surrounded by mouldings usually " mitred " at the angles. When a richer effect was desired, carved pilasters and friezes and the characteristic strapwork ornament were introduced ; intricate patterns sometimes filled the panels, and some use was made of inlaid woods of different colours. After the middle of the xvith century the art of working plaster decoratively was encouraged and plaster ceilings excelled in skilful treatment. Whether flat or curved, moulded ribs in elaborate geometrical patterns with pendants at the intersections, floral ornament in the interspaces and strap-work devices covered the whole surface. The most distinctive feature, however, is the chimneypiece ; few houses are without an ornate example of wall panelling and oak panelling designs. The usual materials were wood and stone, occasionally marble, and sometimes modelled plasterwork for the overmantel. The fireplace opening was framed in varying versions of columns, pilasters and entablature, and a similar arrangement above formed an elaborate overmantel in which frequently the family arms formed the central decoration. For the sumptuous effects to be obtained from oak panelling and furniture, coloured plaster work and stained glass, these interiors have never been excelled, but they lack the reticence that could come only with more chastened imaginations than were possessed by the Elizabethans.