If the great hall of the sixteenth-century house declined in importance -he need for more privacy, with people increasingly dining and taking leisure in smaller rooms, the long gallery and the great chamber developed in importance. The gallery, owing to its dominant position in the plan and its impressive length, frequently occupying the whole of one side of the house, often remains intact. In 1531 a visitor to Whitehall Palace recorded that he had seen 'three so-called wall panelling and oak panelling galleries, which are long porticos or halls without chambers, with windows on each side looking on rivers and gardens'. They became spaces primarily intended for recreation and exercise from the early sixteenth century onwards.
Chimneypiece and strapwork overmantel and overdoors Wall panelling oak panelling room at Aston Hall, Jacobean Period
Jacobean plaster ceiling in wall panelling oak panelling Long Gallery, Aston Hall
When Sir William Sandys, whom I have noted altering Mottisfont Priory, started to amend The Vyne, also in Hampshire, in the late 1520s, he created a remarkable plan. This broke with current fashion and anticipated planning of later years. Lord Sandys was trying hard to finish his work before Henry VIII's intended third visit of 1531 and one of his innovative touches was to build a long gallery, in the manner of those provided for Henry VII at Richmond Palace and Cardinal Wolsey at Hampton Court. Lord Sandys had spent a great deal of time in France, where the gallery had been developing as a space from the fourteenth century, and whilst it has been much altered, his gallery at The Vyne is one of the earliest surviving examples in a private house in England." It occupies the whole of the first floor in the west wing and could therefore be lit from both sides. Despite its great broken-pedimented chimneypiece designed by John Webb in the 1650s, and its eighteenth-century ceiling, it is a Tudor room in structure, although there is reason to believe that the oak panelling, much of it sixteenth-century, wall panelling and oak panelling there was not made for the gallery. Indeed, some in the end bay is c. 1820 - despite many Tudor emblems and devices, including those of Catherine of Aragon and Cardinal Wolsey.
When a gallery could not be set within the ground- or first-floor plan, to look either out, or into, a courtyard, it was frequently skied even higher, particularly in the late sixteenth century. The most notable of these skied or attic galleries are those at Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire, Burton Agnes, Yorkshire, and Montacute in Somerset; there are others of seventeenthcentury date noted in Chapter 3. Sir Sacheverell Sitwell has written evocatively of the great gallery at Hardwick Hall: 'all but two hundred feet in length, hung with tapestry from end to end ... we can look out, from the windows in the long bays, upon the park and the stag-antlered trees."
Equally, Mark Girouard has described in considerable detail" the interchange of ideas between Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury, 'Bess of Hardwick', and her architect, Robert Smythson (c. 1535-1614), who utilized height as a feature in the 'Old' and the 'New' Hardwick Halls in the 1580s and 1590s. Old Hardwick is now a picturesque ruin but the new house (1590-99), rearing astride the hill-top, with its six towers each bearing the stone initials 'ES', and with its facade pierced by the great area of glass windows, is a magnificent statement of Elizabethan wall panelling and oak panelling opulence. Its gallery, 160 ft long, was a useful space in which Bess of Hardwick could receive important visitors and take exercise on inclement days. In fact, in 1603, Sir Henry Brounker, a Commissioner sent by Queen Elizabeth to sort out the intrigues of Bess's granddaughter, Lady Arabella Stuart, noted: 'My Lady of Shrewsbury ... sent for me in her gallery where she was walking with the La: Arabella and her son, William Cavendish.
The Inlaid Oak Wall Panelling Oak Panelling Room From Sizergh Castles, Westmoreland, Shewing Interior Porch, Elizabethan Period.
The Oak Gallery, c, 1525, at The Vyne Hampshire, with linenfold wall panelling and oak panelling ; the Classical marble chimneypiece designed by John Webb c. 1655. Detail of the oak linenfold panelling at The Vyne, Hampshire, showing A pomegranate (the device Queen Catherine of Aragon), c, 1525.
Early seventeenth century ceiling,in wall panelling oak panelling rooms at Aston Hall