1) To line the walls or roof of a room with boards or panelling.

This word passed into English via Old French but it has a complicated etymology and three quite distinct Latin words have been suggested as the source. The OED discussion of the difficulties ends by saying that we cannot separate the English words from ‘ciel’, the French for canopy, and that will resonate with those who consider the implications of the word ‘ceiling’. By the fifteenth century, the verb meant to line the walls or roof of a room with boards or panelling, and it was used in 1469 when five waynscots were purchased for seillyng the Council Chamber in York. Also in York, in 1505, is a reference to syllyng the chapel in the Bedderne. These were institutional buildings but the word was certainly in more general use by the sixteenth century when gentlemen and yeomen were panelling their rooms in an attempt to impress visitors and improve their own comfort. In 1569, John Kaye of Woodsome wrote in his account book I selyd my parlar and hall. By that time though the roof and even outbuildings could also be ceiled and a description of Esholt Priory at the time of the Dissolution includes mention of a roof seylid with waynscottes and a cowe house … seyled abowght. The word is recorded with something of its more recent associations in 1755, when a room in Castle Hall, Mirfield was said to be ceiled over the top with ancient Plaister work. There appears to be an extension of the word’s meaning to ‘panelled’ from the sixteenth century at least, with examples recorded in wills and inventories. The earliest reference is to one seled chiste in Emley, in 1571 but later I have noted beds and chairs so described. There was one seeled long setle in the inventory of Thomas Foster of Slaidburn in 1692.

dates 1469 1505 1569 1571 1692 1755

Related Content Loading...

Photo by Kreuzschnabel CC BY-SA 3.0