Tag Archive for: Door History

Britain’s Oldest Door

07 Feb
February 7, 2013

We’ve been serving London for more than 30 years and we always looked towards the future. It’s only natural to keep up with these fast paced times, especially when you’re taking responsibility for the safety of others. And let’s face it, crime rates have been going up and burglar tools have evolved a lot. So we did our best to stay one step ahead and that was possible only by thinking things in perspective.

But today we decided to look back and we’ll be sharing a piece of history, because it’s somewhat a part of our history.

As the title suggests, we’re talking about Britain’s oldest door and we’d be curious to find out what your first estimate could be. How old do you think this door is? 300 years? 500? 600?

Well, it’s almost 1000 years old, since it was assembled in 1050. This lovely piece of archaeology, the
 of the Chapter House, was found in Westminster Abbey and it seems that it was put in place in the time of Edward the Confessor, the actual founder of the Abbey.

The door was made of oak, one oak to be precise and it is composed of 5 panels. However, it is thought that it used to be arched, and that would mean that now it’s significantly shorter. Tests showed that the tree used in the making grew in eastern England (probably Essex), somewhere between 924 and 1030 AD.

The truly remarkable thing about this door is that it has been in constant use. Furthermore, it seems that this particular aspect is the secret to its longevity (this and the fact that it was indoors).

Another thing that is worth mentioning is the possibility to have been covered in human skin at some point. Yes, that sounds creepy, but it was supposed to be a strong message, since the skin was of a man who committed a sacrilege on the Abbey grounds. It’s hard to say whether this legend is true or not, but thinking about the specifics of the Middle Age it’s not even that far fetched.

All in all, this is one wooden door that deserves our admiration. It sure passed the test of time and it’s still in great shape, even though only one of its original iron straps is in place today. Nostalgics might comment that that’s how they did things in “the old days” (to be honest, the really old days), but we’re proud of every piece of work we do today!

Famous Doors of the World – The Florence Baptistery

21 Jan
January 21, 2013

You probably realized by now that we’re very passionate about our doors, but we’re also interested in other people’s work, especially if it’s something really great. And when it comes to greatness, there’s no craftsmanship in the world that beats the doors of the Florence Baptistery. They are a true work of art, built over 27 years by Medieval Europe’s greatest sculptors and bronze smiths.

The Florence Baptistery is one of the oldest buildings in Florence (Italy) and it was built somewhere between 1059 and 1128. It is famous for a number of remarkable architectural aspects such as the mosaic ceiling, but first of all for its doors.

The South Doors (initially designed for the Eastern section) were the first and they were created by Andrea Pisaro during a period of 6 years (between 1300 and 1306). These beautiful bronze giants are made up of 28 panels, each containing aspects of John the Baptist’s life and the eight virtues (Hope, Faith, Charity, Humility, Fortitude, Temperance, Justice and Prudence).

The North Doors were the work of Lorenzo Ghiberti and it actually took 23 years to complete them (1401-1424), probably because somewhere in the process the artist was asked to change the theme from the Old Testament to the New Testament.

The East Doors, also known as the “Gates of Paradise”, were also Ghiberti’s work and needed 27 years to be completed (1425-1452). If you were to visit Florence tomorrow you would only see a replica, but the original doors are kept inside the Museo Dell’Opera Del Duomo and have been so since 1990 while undergoing a process of restoration. The 10 panels that compose the “Gates of Paradise” are all inspired by the Old Testament: Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, The drunkenness of Noah, Abraham and Isaac, Esau and Jacob, Joseph, Moses and the 10 commandments, The fall of Jericho, David and Goliath, Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. What is truly remarkable about these, even more so than the other two sets of doors, is the detail of the sculptures and the highlights that make you feel as if the scenes come to life.

Of course, standards really have changed over time and no beauty in design could make a customer patient enough to wait for a door for 27 years, or even 6 years. But on the other hand people these days don’t need actual works of art to guard their valuables. Modern times call for security and lucky you, we’re also thinking about beauty, so we’re wrapping strength into lovely designs. We’re not promising bronze sculptures, but you won’t be disappointed either!

 

Ancient Door Technologies

18 Jan
January 18, 2013

We, modern men, enjoy taking pride in all of today’s technological progress and we’ve got this illusion that we’re somehow superior to our ancestors. But the truth is that at least some of today’s “wonders” have been around for way longer than we imagine. Of course, the Ancients didn’t have chips on their keys or biometric security measures, but we bet you’ll still be surprised by the following.

The first thing that comes to mind is something that you could have seen in a documentary about Star Trek. Even if you’re not necessarily a fan, it seems that a series of technologies that were only imagined (and built on special effects) in the early episodes, actually led to progress. Somebody made a documentary about them and on that show you would have found the automated doors that slided open based on sensors. When the original Star Trek series was produced (somewhere in the ’60s) this was not yet a part of day to day life and, according to that documentary, the doors were actually moved manually by two workers on the set, one for each sliding panel. Now think about your own personal history and try to remember when was the first time you saw this kind of door. We’re so accustomed to them now that it might be difficult to remember, but if you really think about it you’ll probably realize that you’ve only known them for 20-30 years, and that’s a tiny fraction compared to humanity’s history.

But if we were to go back in time, we’d see that the first automatic door was actually created in the 1st century AD by Heron of Alexandria, a Greek mathematician and engineer. As for motion sensors, it seems that the first foot sensor activated door was a Chinese creation, first implemented sometime between 604 and 618, during the reign of Emperor Yang of Sui; the emperor asked for this door to be fitted at his personal library.

And even something as complex as automatic gate openers was invented long before modern times. Actually, we’re close to 900 years since their invention, since Al Jazari (1136-1206) was the one who managed to imagine and develop a system that did this, based on hydro-power.

So you see, we’ve accomplished a lot, but we’re not entitled to all the glory. However, we deserve a lot of credit for trying hard to move further and progress. And when it comes to doors we know for a fact that we’re doing everything we can to make sure your security is impenetrable.