Old World Architecture: Doors of England

On a recent trip to England I couldn’t help noticing all of the old world doors still in use.  Many of our clients request the timeless old world appearance in doors and in other architectural elements.  This is the case whether it’s Mountain style architecture, Beach House, Storybook, Tuscan, and others. Being an architect, and having a new Nikon, of course I had to start snapping photographs of these treasures.

Old world architecture and door at Stow

Door of the Stow-on-the-Wold Parish Church in England, flanked by yew trees.

As you can see, it’s not just the doors themselves that make great entryways, but also the surrounding architecture, and even the landscaping.  The entry above, at Stow-on-the-Wold’s St. Edwards Parish Church in the Cotswolds, could just as easily be seen in a Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter movie.

Door in the old world architecture of the Cotswolds

This entry door is subtle in a Cotswold’s thatched home.


Oldest old world door in England

Britain’s oldest door

It doesn’t get much more old world than this.  The door above, in London’s Westminster Abbey, is Britain’s oldest door.  The text below reads, “Most likely constructed in the 1050’s for St. Edward the Confessor – Westminster Abbey”.

Old world door Westminster Abbey

The entry door to the Pyx Chamber in Westminster Abbey.

Located just around the corner from Britain’s oldest door, the door above is to the Pyx Chamber in Westminster Abbey.  This chamber was used as a treasury for both the monastery and for the British crown.

Below is the entrance to Alnwick Castle, in northeastern England.  This entrance is actually the “entrance gate”, which typically invaders would try to take down when storming the castle.  These doors are about 6″ (15 cm) thick.

Old world entrance doors, gates of Alnwick Castle, of Harry Potter fame.

Alnwick Castle Entrance

By the way, if you ever want to do something fun with the kids, take them here for broomstick training from a Hogwarts wizard.  If you’ve ever seen the first Harry Potter movie, this is where Harry took his flying lessons on the Hogwarts grounds.  For more info on Hogwarts, see our blog post on The Architecture of Hogwarts Castle.

Entrance to Alnwick Castle Keep as seen in Harry Potter and Downton Abbey

The Entrance to Alnwick Castle’s Keep

The above photo is of the entrance gates to Alnwick Castle’s keep.  Keeps were fortified residences on the castle interior, typically used as a refuge of last resort should the castle fall to an enemy.  Alnwick Castle’s Keep currently houses the State Rooms of the Duke of Northumberland and his family. Speaking of filming locations, it also housed the 2014 Downton Abbey Christmas Special.

Below is another side door at Stow-on-the-Wold’s Parish Church.  Fairly simple, you can easily see the decorative steel plates and clavos, which were large, often decorative nails, usually connecting to plates on the other side of the door.

Old world door at Stow-on-the-Wold Parish Church

Another side door at Stow-on-the-Wold’s Parish Church

Below is a rustic door at Hampton Court Palace.  This door is located in the kitchen area, and is fairly nondescript, except for its arch (which were common in the Tudor age) and wood timber door header.  Hampton Court Palace used to be one of the homes of the tyrant King Henry VIII. The vast kitchens were able to serve grand feasts to a thousand people.  On our recent trip we could have stood inside one of the roasting ovens, if not for the roaring fire inside it.

Old world architecture and door at Hampton Court Palace

A rustic door and header at Hampton Court Palace

Below is another fairly simple Tudor arched door at Hampton Court Palace.

Old world door at Hampton Court Palace

Another door in the kitchen’s of Hampton Court Palace

Sure, door design has improved in recent years (in some ways), but if anyone wants a true “old world” door, it’s always good to hearken back to the classics.  These give hints of the steel plates, levers (handles), clavos, and other hardware that are popular today in newer versions of “old world” doors.

These photos are only from my travels, and so by no means are the best old world doors out there.  I’ll include some more from other countries later.  I’d be interested to know of other great doors around the world.  Feel free to leave comments or even send photos, and I may include them in a future post.

John Hendricks, AIA Architect

Hendricks Architecture designs custom residences throughout the USA and elsewhere, from small beach houses to larger mountain style homes, and just about everything in between.  We design collaboratively with our clients, creating the right fit for their lifestyles and aesthetics.  Doors are an integral part of the design, and can either be custom designed for each location, or we can help you choose from some reputable door manufacturers.

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The Family Cabin

I’ve designed a lot of family cabins as an architect.  Each cabin is custom-made for each unique family and its individuals.  The goal is typically to build a comfortable and special place that will become a home base for fond memories, and I do my best to pick our client’s brains to achieve that objective.  I have experience on both sides of the issue, so I thought I’d share some experiences I’ve had in the family cabin where my siblings and I spent our childhood summers.

John Hendricks trout fisherman before architect

Me (John) with one of many trout we caught.

Our cabin was located at Huntington Lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, about halfway between Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks in California.  The cabin wasn’t exactly a masterpiece of mountain architecture.  The main level consisted of a mudroom/pantry, a small kitchen around a built-in dining table, a bathroom, small master bedroom, and a fairly large living room (great rooms weren’t invented yet) with a high vaulted ceiling.  This ceiling was not held up with the large architectural timber trusses we commonly design today, but with trusses made up from a conglomeration of patterns made out of 2×6’s, which later had to be fortified after the roof started sagging.  We had a 12:12 (12” vertical to 12” horizontal) roof pitch, which was ample enough space for a second bedroom upstairs.  All the walls and ceilings were pine, which was very common way back in the 20th century.

Our family mountain cabin in winter after heavy snowfall

Our cabin in winter.

The three of us brothers let our sister take the bedroom in the summers.  We slept outside in an army tent.  With four cots on the perimeter and two spaces on the floor, there was ample space for friends and cousins as well.

I was seven years old when we moved in, and we spent a lot of those first few summers’ trout fishing.  We’d fish off docks and our secret “fishing hole”, and would catch enough for some large pan-friend trout dinners.  We also caught a few sucker fish.  An elderly couple in a nearby cabin kept a garden and would pay us 5 cents for every sucker fish we caught.  It was mutually beneficial.  They would use the sucker parts for fertilizer, while we’d save up our nickels to buy comic books, which were only 25 cents back then (all of a sudden I feel really dated writing this).

Trout Fishing on Huntington Lake

My brothers and I fishing on Huntington Lake.

We’d walk a couple miles through the woods and cross a big log over a stream to get to the store at Cedar Crest Resort.  Cedar Crest had plenty of comic books, where I began buying Casper and Richie Rich, and later moved on to Marvel Comics (Captain America was a favorite) and Mad Magazine.  Evenings would be spent reading or playing games.  Poker, Monopoly and Mystery Date were favorites that the previous owners had left us.  Yes, Mystery Date.  I did mention we have a sister.  We had a lot of laughs with this one.  The previous owners also left us stacks of National Geographics, Little Lulu comics, and Mad Magazines from the 50’s and 60’s.  That’s where I learned all my culture, despite my dad’s best intentions taking us to the Fresno Philharmonic concerts.

Mystery Date Game guilty pleasure

The Mystery Date Game. About as much strategy as Candy Land.

My parents had a San Juan 21 sailboat and would use that for cruising and racing.  Huntington Lake is known as one of the best sailing lakes around, and every year holds the High Sierra Regatta, which pulls in top quality competition (about 150 boats each weekend including some Olympic sailors) for two weekends.  My brothers and I started off racing in 8 foot flippers, and eventually moved up to Lasers and crewing (and skippering) on the bigger boats.

Fresno Yacht Club's High Sierra Regatta

The Fresno Yacht Club’s High Sierra Regatta

The San Juan 21’s were among those racing the first weekend.  The week preceding the races was always my favorite week of the year.  There were about twenty San Juan’s in the fleet, and we were all good friends.  Every night a party would be held at one of the owner’s cabins.  For some reason our party was always held on Thursday nights.  The adults would always have a rousing good time (for some reason a few seemed a little groggy the next day), while us kids would go off into the night after dinner, playing “spotlight” going to “the swing” or playing “spoons”.  Later, as the boys came to appreciate the girls a little more, we’d go to Lakeshore Resort to go dancing, where old Charlie Hull was the DJ.  He was the entertainment director from the 1940’s through the 80’s, and made it a lively time.

Fun at the Hendricks Family mountain cabin

One of my brothers (middle) and cousins (right) at the Hendricks Cabin. Can you guess the decade?

In August the action at the lake would cool down a little in the sailing world, so we’d sometimes go backpacking deep into the Sierra’s for a week at a time.  My dad was an Eagle Scout, and he taught us a lot about living in the backcountry, which served me well later as I continue taking friends and family back into the wilderness.  Sometimes we’d set up a central base camp and hike from there every day, but usually we’d do a big loop through places we’ve never been.  In our high school years just the boys and my dad would go (my sister had no interest and was old enough to say no).  My younger brother and I played football and our coaches would get upset that we weren’t in the gym lifting weights.  They didn’t understand that we were getting a lot better workout than our teammates!

Family backpacking from the mountain cabin

The family backpacking in the earlier years. I’m second from the left. Even the dog had a pack.

Hendricks brothers backpacking in the Sierras.

My brothers and I (right) after crossing a High Sierra mountain pass in August. Shot by my dad. At 16 I just received my driver’s license, but there’s no driving up here.

High Sierra Mountain Backpacking 80s bangs

Those who know me might find this amusing. Here’s me and my bangs on that same trip, circa early 80’s.

The roads were not plowed in the winter so we would ski in about four miles once or twice a year to shovel the snow off the roof (those trusses made of 2×6’s!) and deck, and to one of the entry doors.  The Sierra winters can be brutal, and I remember one winter where we couldn’t do the whole roof, even though it was a fairly small cabin.  Some winters we could touch the snow from the second level bedroom window.  One winter it snowed so much that the roads weren’t plowed within thirty miles of the cabin, but just to the top of the four lane highway.  So we proceeded to ski up and down the highway (not much traffic and I was only about 13).  I was skiing down the highway by myself when the highway patrol pulled me over.  They took me back to the car and admonished my dad without giving a ticket, who then cursed them after they left.

Cabin under heavy snow

Here’s the cabin again under heavy snow.

In the late 80’s we had to sell the cabin.  The buyer quickly remodeled and added on to it.  I’ll always remember the way it was though, and could design the same cabin from memory if I wanted to.  I probably never will as it wasn’t the most efficient or the best design.  But for about fifteen years it was the best cabin there ever was.

John Hendricks, Architect AIA

Kids at Lakeshore Resort Huntington Lake

A few of the next generation of Hendricks kids at Huntington Lake’s Lakeshore Resort about ten years ago.

Hendricks Architecture designs mountain style homes and cabins throughout North America.  Please visit our selected projects page for some of our more recent projects.  Click to Subscribe to Hendricks Architecture’s Blog
If you have an interest in having a cabin designed, or in talking about the good old days at Huntington Lake, please feel free to call or email me, or contact me on our Contact Page.

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