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The Mote Cupboard


In 1578 John Scourfield, who became Sheriff in 1600, married Catrin, daughter of Richard ap Owen of nearby Llwchmeilier and the cupboard was made to commemorate this important event.

The sumptuous and creative carving not only manifested the wealth and importance of the owner but exaggerated and transformed the basic form of the cupboard. The ornamentation covered every space and combined individual interpretations of standard features of Classical derivation, such as acanthus leaves, term figures, palmettes, arcading, strapwork and demi-lunettes, with the earlier narrative tradition, which was in contrast presented in an asymmetrical design.

Bearing the motto and arms of the
Scourfields of Mote
Pembrokeshire, 1578

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The bottom left hand door has a collared greyhound with the motto 'Phyddlon' (ffyddlon: faithful) and represents the Scourfields, an important family in the locality in the 16th and 17th centuries who were connected by marriage to many of their class in the county.

The panels were originally painted, suggested by the arrangement since Bleddyn ap Cynfin's crest was described in the late 15th century as 'a lyon of silver Rampannt in a fild of red', the same scheme as the Scourfield hound.


The most intriguing feature of the cupboard is the magnificent row of animals across the top of the lower section. All facing in the same direction and of varying size, they would appear to be more than decoration. Both the boar and goat appear twice, although not identically, and might have been distinguished by colour. Two of the creatures, the unicorn and cockatrice, were mythical, the others being common animals, some domestic and others related to the chase. Several may have been heraldic because, as has been seen, it was customary for bards at the wedding feast to record the achievements of the couple's ancestors.

It was also the practice to extol the virtues of the bride and groom in the traditional manner prescribed by the rules of the poetic craft, and these were similarly often represented by animals. Some were derived from the bestiaries, with their influence in this example suggested by the form of the goat on the left, which was normally shown in front of foliage in such sources.












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Featured in: "Welsh Furniture 1250-1950"














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