London – Kensington and Chelsea (Borough of) – Victoria and Albert Museum (13th Century Doors from Gannat)

OK, I’ll admit that this doesn’t perhaps seem like fascinating blog content. It’s some old wooden doors from the thirteenth century with ironwork and they’re from Gannat, a commune in central France. The museum has some notes about just how rare these are and how they can be dated from their design and also as it was a transitional process of how chisels were used on the iron scrollwork.

To be honest, that level of detail is a little over my head, I just like the element of history here. These doors would have been in use for hundreds of years and at one stage they were hung upside down, which is evident from the much later keyhole and lock. It’s not known which building these doors are originally from, but such decorative iron would have been expensive, so this would have been a substantial property.

What does interest me here is just imagining how many people used these doors over the centuries. There are several church doors in Norfolk that date from the Norman period and there’s something quite magical about the thought of just how many people have passed through the doors for baptisms, marriages, funerals and the more routine sermons (of which I’m sure at least a few have been quite dull and mundane). The next stop on the church tour that Richard and I are doing is Runhall Church, where the tower door is thought to be contemporary with the building of the tower itself in the twelfth century. More on this in the next few weeks hopefully….

The V&A likely have these doors on display as they want to show the design of the ironwork from the period, but I just liked that things such as this have survived and are visible to the general public. For anyone fascinated by old doors (I’m not sure how big that niche is….), there is just one left in the UK which is made from wood felled in Saxon times and it’s at Westminster Abbey.