In the days before form followed function (and we were glad of it), people liked to add
whimsical touches to their homes. Life was a whole lot more grim in those days with a
higher infant mortality and epidemics that swept through otherwise healthy populations
and created nothing but grief. So people had a real incentive to decorate their homes in
wild and unusual ways. The radical woodwork of the nineteenth century is an expression
of hopeful aspirations- aspirations of happiness and of good health and of good cheer.
Back in those nearly-forgotten days, a happy marriage was a thing people actually
expected, not some sort of one-in- a million long shot. The woodwork of even the smallest
cottage reflected this lovely vision. It said “ This is a happy home." Fretwork spandrels
serve no useful purpose beyond being an absolute delight to the eye.