We are open 7 days a week until 3rd November. Keep up to date through our News pages.

Decorative Bridal Mirror Box Panels

When the Gayer-Anderson brothers undertook the restoration of Little Hall in the 1930s they fitted out a number of its rooms with architectural features and decorative pieces. The items were collected on their travels in Egypt and the Middle East. One such room, which they called ‘the Study’, now known as the Panelled Room, was fitted out with cupboards which housed smaller items from their collection of antiques and antiquities. The doors to the cupboards, which were always locked, and the access doors to the room, were faced with panels from Persian bridal mirror boxes. The decorative panels were also affixed to a door that gives access to a stairway to the first floor. The panels are decorated with Asian birds, scenes of domestic life, flowers and fruit. Thomas thought the room with its “cheery bright yellow woodwork and …Persian flower pieces” was one of the most complicated and successful decorative schemes undertaken within the house.

IMGP9930 edited 1
A pair of doors from a
Persian bridal mirror box
reused as decorative panels
on the cupboard doors at Little Hall.
The bird is possibly a Persian nuthatch.

The panels of the bridal mirror boxes are probably 18th or 19th century in origin. They are of an unknown wood, rectangular in form, and painted in multicolours. They were formerly sections, as the name suggests, from decorative boxes which contained a mirror. Ironically and pertinently the reused panels on the cupboard doors probably served as the doors to the mirror boxes.

Mirror boxes came in a range of sizes and had either a single or pair of doors. The majority of the panels reused are pairs. Thomas noted that the mirror box doors were elaborately decorated on both sides. When the doors of the box were opened to reveal the mirror, the decoration of their inner face, often more elaborate than that of the outer face, was exposed. Tantalisingly, behind the painted panels affixed to the Study doors, lies the decorated inner face of the mirror box interior.

Traditionally mirrors played an important ritual role in Persian wedding ceremonies. The mirror, in its elaborately decorated box, was placed on the “Sofreh Aghd” or wedding table. It would be flanked by candelabra, symbols of light. The food laid out on the “Sofreh Aghd” would traditionally include herbs and sweet pastries and the “blessed bread”, the latter of which was adorned with virtuous texts. In addition there would be bread, cheese and salad, the essentials needed to sustain life. When the veiled bride entered the room where the wedding was being conducted, she and the groom would sit before the mirror.

A 19th century Persian Qajar painted mirror box.
The doors open to reveal the mirror and inner decoration.

At the point the bride’s veil was raised the groom would see her face, sometimes for the first time, reflected in the mirror. Today many Iranian couples maintain the past traditions of the wedding ceremony, particularly the role of the mirror.

The elaborate painted decoration on the Little Hall panels includes symbols of virtue and good fortune. The tulip, here stylised, is often seen in middle eastern culture as a symbol of feminine beauty, perfection and paradise. The Chrysanthemum is associated with the Persian pre-Islamic Zoroastrian spiritual being, Ashi Vanghuhi, a female Yazad or angel of ‘good blessings and rewards’.

Thomas observed that this room, with its reused panels from the bridal mirror boxes, “fulfilled admirably the various functions required of it”. Today the painted panels of the mirror boxes are largely seen merely as decorative items. The panels are more than this. Like all objects from the past they have a story to tell. We do not know the names of the brides whose faces were once reflected in the mirrors concealed behind the panels which now adorn the Study cupboard doors. The panels do though provide an insight into the culture and society of a land far from Little Hall. Perhaps in some small way they may enable us to appreciate the complex world in which we live.

Michael Sutherill
Curator, Little Hall, July 2020

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Welcome to our Privacy Policy
— Your privacy is critically important to us.
Little Hall Lavenham is located at:

Little Hall Lavenham
Little Hall Market Place
Suffolk, Lavenham
It is Little Hall Lavenham’s policy to respect your privacy regarding any information we may collect while operating our website. This Privacy Policy applies to littlehall.org.uk (hereinafter, “us”, “we”, or “littlehall.org.uk”). We respect your privacy and are committed to protecting personally identifiable information you may provide us through the Website. We have adopted this privacy policy (“Privacy Policy”) to explain what information may be collected on our Website, how we use this information, and under what circumstances we may disclose the information to third parties. This Privacy Policy applies only to information we collect through the Website and does not apply to our collection of information from other sources.
This Privacy Policy, together with the Terms and conditions posted on our Website, set forth the general rules and policies governing your use of our Website. Depending on your activities when visiting our Website, you may be required to agree to additional terms and conditions.

– Website Visitors
Like most website operators, Little Hall Lavenham collects non-personally-identifying information of the sort that web browsers and servers typically make available, such as the browser type, language preference, referring site, and the date and time of each visitor request. Little Hall Lavenham’s purpose in collecting non-personally identifying information is to better understand how Little Hall Lavenham’s visitors use its website. From time to time, Little Hall Lavenham may release non-personally-identifying information in the aggregate, e.g., by publishing a report on trends in the usage of its website.
Little Hall Lavenham also collects potentially personally-identifying information like Internet Protocol (IP) addresses for logged in users and for users leaving comments on http://littlehall.org.uk blog posts. Little Hall Lavenham only discloses logged in user and commenter IP addresses under the same circumstances that it uses and discloses personally-identifying information as described below.

– Gathering of Personally-Identifying Information
Certain visitors to Little Hall Lavenham’s websites choose to interact with Little Hall Lavenham in ways that require Little Hall Lavenham to gather personally-identifying information. The amount and type of information that Little Hall Lavenham gathers depends on the nature of the interaction. For example, we ask visitors who sign up for a blog at http://littlehall.org.uk to provide a username and email address.

– Security
The security of your Personal Information is important to us, but remember that no method of transmission over the Internet, or method of electronic storage is 100% secure. While we strive to use commercially acceptable means to protect your Personal Information, we cannot guarantee its absolute security.

– Advertisements
Ads appearing on our website may be delivered to users by advertising partners, who may set cookies. These cookies allow the ad server to recognize your computer each time they send you an online advertisement to compile information about you or others who use your computer. This information allows ad networks to, among other things, deliver targeted advertisements that they believe will be of most interest to you. This Privacy Policy covers the use of cookies by Little Hall Lavenham and does not cover the use of cookies by any advertisers.

– Links To External Sites
Our Service may contain links to external sites that are not operated by us. If you click on a third party link, you will be directed to that third party’s site. We strongly advise you to review the Privacy Policy and terms and conditions of every site you visit.
We have no control over, and assume no responsibility for the content, privacy policies or practices of any third party sites, products or services.

– Protection of Certain Personally-Identifying Information
Little Hall Lavenham discloses potentially personally-identifying and personally-identifying information only to those of its employees, contractors and affiliated organizations that (i) need to know that information in order to process it on Little Hall Lavenham’s behalf or to provide services available at Little Hall Lavenham’s website, and (ii) that have agreed not to disclose it to others. Some of those employees, contractors and affiliated organizations may be located outside of your home country; by using Little Hall Lavenham’s website, you consent to the transfer of such information to them. Little Hall Lavenham will not rent or sell potentially personally-identifying and personally-identifying information to anyone. Other than to its employees, contractors and affiliated organizations, as described above, Little Hall Lavenham discloses potentially personally-identifying and personally-identifying information only in response to a subpoena, court order or other governmental request, or when Little Hall Lavenham believes in good faith that disclosure is reasonably necessary to protect the property or rights of Little Hall Lavenham, third parties or the public at large.
If you are a registered user of http://littlehall.org.uk and have supplied your email address, Little Hall Lavenham may occasionally send you an email to tell you about new features, solicit your feedback, or just keep you up to date with what’s going on with Little Hall Lavenham and our products. We primarily use our blog to communicate this type of information, so we expect to keep this type of email to a minimum. If you send us a request (for example via a support email or via one of our feedback mechanisms), we reserve the right to publish it in order to help us clarify or respond to your request or to help us support other users. Little Hall Lavenham takes all measures reasonably necessary to protect against the unauthorized access, use, alteration or destruction of potentially personally-identifying and personally-identifying information.

– Aggregated Statistics
Little Hall Lavenham may collect statistics about the behavior of visitors to its website. Little Hall Lavenham may display this information publicly or provide it to others. However, Little Hall Lavenham does not disclose your personally-identifying information.

– Cookies
To enrich and perfect your online experience, Little Hall Lavenham uses “Cookies”, similar technologies and services provided by others to display personalized content, appropriate advertising and store your preferences on your computer.
A cookie is a string of information that a website stores on a visitor’s computer, and that the visitor’s browser provides to the website each time the visitor returns. Little Hall Lavenham uses cookies to help Little Hall Lavenham identify and track visitors, their usage of http://littlehall.org.uk, and their website access preferences. Little Hall Lavenham visitors who do not wish to have cookies placed on their computers should set their browsers to refuse cookies before using Little Hall Lavenham’s websites, with the drawback that certain features of Little Hall Lavenham’s websites may not function properly without the aid of cookies.
By continuing to navigate our website without changing your cookie settings, you hereby acknowledge and agree to Little Hall Lavenham’s use of cookies.

Privacy Policy Changes
Although most changes are likely to be minor, Little Hall Lavenham may change its Privacy Policy from time to time, and in Little Hall Lavenham’s sole discretion. Little Hall Lavenham encourages visitors to frequently check this page for any changes to its Privacy Policy. Your continued use of this site after any change in this Privacy Policy will constitute your acceptance of such change.

– Credit & Contact Information
This privacy policy was created at https://termsandconditionstemplate.com/privacy-policy-generator/. If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, please contact us via or phone.