This panel was reputedly made by Joiners’ William Bennett and Robert Key during August 1589 and formed part of the original wall panelling at Merton College Library, Oxford, and was made for Sir Henry Saville, Warden of Merton. Bennett and Key were deemed experts in the construction of “the new libraries” designed by Thomas Bodley (circa 1545 – 1613).
The same panelling was also made and used for Wadham College Dining Room, also based in Oxford, in about 1610.
Bennett and Key were also employed by Thomas Thornton (circa 1541-1629), He was based at Christ Church, Oxford and was a Canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. He was twice Vice-Chancellor at the University of Oxford during 1583–1584 and 1599–1600. Thornton received a Bachelor of Divinity Degree followed by a Doctorate in the same subject at Oxford University. He appointed the two joiners to refurbish Hereford Cathedral Library in 1611, where he was also Precentor of Hereford Cathedral from 1573, and Master of the Library there from 1595; he re-organized the library and had new bookcases installed on the model of those in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
Of geometric form and carved from oak, the centre bears a “Romayne” head flanked by four decorative corner spandrels, each surrounded by moulding and inset with a design of carved fruit and foliage.
Condition: Surface wear as per the images. A piece of moulding is missing from the top left corner. A further condition report is available upon request.
Size: Height 60 cm x Width 60 cm (23 3/4″ x 23 3/4″)
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