Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Goodwood Hardware

From the Spring 2002 Goodwood Newsletter:

The Hardware

The scale of Goodwood's rooms is impressive.  With ceilings thirteen feet high, the doors between spaces were proportionately sized at nine feet.  Highlighting each of these doors on the first floor are silverplated door knobs, keyholes with covers, and hinges.  The smooth polished surface of the knobs reflected the aura of wealth and sophistication the Croom family sought to project.  The unusual hinges were designed to minimize the number of screws visible.  As the solid, nine-foot doors are extremely heavy--especially for just two sets of hinges--the hinges were designed with heavy iron plates that actually do the work of swinging the doors.  Over these iron plates a thin silverplated cover was screwed into place to enhance the appearance.  Also enhancing the appearance are the keyhole covers.  People often assume that these covers were used to assure privacy in a room and that may be a factor.  But builders' design books and ladies' home magazines from the early nineteenth century frequently  notes that these covers will do wonders to stop that annoying whistling of the wind through the keyhole.

In selecting their hardware, Bryan and Evelina Croom followed established social custom.  While the hardware of the first floor was of expensive and stylish silverplate level, the hardware on the second floor was much simpler.  Porcelain doorknobs and iron hinges were sufficient to do the job.  On the third level in the attic, some of the doors were closed with out-of-date brass and iron locksets dating from the early 1800s.  Even for families of wealth like the Crooms, cost was a factor they considered.

This distinction of quality between the first and second floor also held true for the servants' call ringers located on the outer walls of each main room on the first and second floor.  On the first floor they were silverplated and stylishly simple.  On the second floor they were brass and porcelain.  Originally, wires connected these ringers to a call station in the basement where a lever would be tripped or a bell jingled to identify the room where the ringer was engaged.  Although the call system was dismantled generations ago, the call ringers remain, silent testimony to a bygone era.

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