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The history of decorative plasterwork in the mid-sixteenth century is one of interwoven strands, which the paucity of evidence makes it difficult to unravel, but the following account will attempt to clarify the issues and suggest some alternative interpretations of the surviving evidence.No attempt will be made in this chapter to survey the history of decorative plasterwork in the sixteenth century across the whole of the British Isles, either socially or geographically.However, as the plasterers at first followed very closely in the footsteps of the joiners who were responsible for much of the innovatory ceiling decoration of the first decades of the sixteenth century, some account must first be taken of developments in ceiling design in those years, a period of rapid change in interior decoration as a whole.

Although the number of examples of decorative plasterwork which fall within this last category is rather small, the houses in which they occur are scattered widely across the British Isles.Introduction Most accounts of English decorative plasterwork take as their starting point the panels applied to the exterior of Nonsuch Palace in the early 1540s.This is to ignore the evidence of experimentation with plaster as a decorative medium in England before this date and leads to over-simplification in the account of subsequent developments.Now they could be boarded or plastered to 'ceil' them, reducing draughts and dirt.The creation of flat timber ceilings was not unknown in medieval palaces, but their costliness restricted their use to the houses of the wealthy.[1] It should also be pointed out here that ‘ceiling’ was an alternative spelling for ‘sealing’ and could refer to the covering of walls as well as ceilings, whether with plaster or timber panelling.

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