At Sutton House the Linenfold Parlour is the highlight, where the Tudor oak panelling on the walls has been carved to resemble draped cloth.
Similar panelling can be seen on the lower half of the walls of the 16th century dining hall at St John’s College, Cambridge.
The panelling at Sutton House would originally have been painted with bright colours (typical of Elizabethan interiors), as hinted at by the painted linenfold design behind the actual panelling and shown below.
The question is whether the paint effect was a statement in its own right or a covering for the walls while the occupants were awaiting delivery of the panelling?
However, today we now see a much more demure brown oak effect.
Wood panelling became popular in Northern Europe circa the 14th century, once European carpenters had mastered frame and panel joinery. It does a good job of covering shoddy walls and creates warmth in a room.
When I visited Sand in Sidbury, Devon the owner’s sister explained how very early panelling was often carved out of a single piece of wood, including the bordering, whereas later examples almost always including a separate piece of beading to frame the panel. Sand has some very good examples of the early form of panelling.
I now always check out the beading on panelling when visiting pre-18th C houses.
Have a look – you might find a rare survivor if you find panelling like at Sand.