THE BROOKING NATIONAL ARCHITECTURAL MUSEUM

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Neo-classical front door (right) from 7, Besborough Gardens, Pimlico. Built by the renowned master builder Thomas Cubitt circa 1842-45, rescued during demolition of this fine stucco terrace in 1981. Made from Baltic pine with cast iron studs. The brass knocker is much later, from around 1875-85. The polished steel letter-plate was fitted during the 1960’s.

Notes on the notable

Some of The Collection’s largest and most celebrated relics are featured in this category. Gothic doors from Windsor Castle, sash windows from Buckingham Palace, Christopher Wren windows from St Paul’s Cathedral and the Royal Hospital in Chelsea, Adam windows and doors from Bowood House in Wiltshire ...

Then, there is the complete entrance to the Adam Brothers’ Chinese Embassy in London’s Portland Place, doors from the Royal Retiring Room at Wembley Stadium, the front door to sculptor John Flaxman’s house, Henry Mayhew’s Albany Street front door, the 1736 garden door from 10 Downing Street ...

There is no shortage of doors in The Collection. Early ledged and boarded, early panelled, front doors ranging from vernacular and high status to early mass-produced. And of course, a huge array of carefully-cut sections showing the detail and evolution of construction and joinery.

In those days, (left & right) they didn’t just replace them, they fixed them. One of the oldest in The Collection, this mid 16th / early 17th century external door is a fine, boarded example from the Bristol area. Note fixing nails and horizontal elm-boarding to the rear, and original strap hinges. The long-ago repair to the lower portion is owing to decay.

Art deco swing door (right) from the Ladies’ Changing Room at indoor swimming baths, Eltham, circa 1938. Note the high-quality workmanship of this very heavy door, and rare chromium-plated Copperlite glazing. The grip handle is original.

Learning curves: (below) apprentice piece made for a City & Guilds exam taken at the Godalming Institute in Bridge Street, Godalming, Surrey, circa 1905. This delightful miniature Arts & Crafts oak “front door”, which measures only 4’ 9” by 2’ was discovered during conversion work in the loft, where it had been in store for around 100 years.

What lies beneath (right and lower left) elaborate internal door designed by Maxwell Ayrton from the Royal Retiring Room, Wembley Stadium, London.

It was updated with a covering of veneered plywood, probably for the 1948 Olympic Games, and was itself covered with another layer of veneered plywood during the 1989 refurbishment. A suspicion of something more intriguing beneath led Charles Brooking to prise the ply away during rescue work before demolition, and the original glories were revealed.

A fire door of high quality (left) from the Swiss Centre, Leicester Square, London, designed by David du R. Aberdeen & Partners in 1961, completed 1966. A good example of high-quality joinery of a period which is now beginning to be reassessed. Note the polished Georgian wire glass – which superseded Copperlite glazing in fire doors in the 1950’s – and typical pushpad door handles.

A door display (above) showing left to right: a 1906 internal door designed by Charles Voysey, a vestibule porch door with cut-glass panels from a 1898 villa in Guildford, Surrey, and an early 1950’s fire door from a City of London office building.

Annus horribilis... carved lower portion of glazed door from Crimson Drawing Room, Windsor Castle, (left) severely damaged in the fire of 1992. Designed by the noted architect Sir Jeffry Wyatville circa 1825, it was donated to The Collection by the Royal Household in 1997. Constructed of oak with hand-carved decoration, it was originally in polished oak, later painted white with gold relief decoration in 1972.

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