“HL” Hinges and “Cross and Bible” Doors

Sometimes myths seem more interesting than facts and so those myths get repeated over and over again and take on an eternal life.  Such a myth is the one associated with doors in 18th and 19th century houses.

Often doors in older houses were hung using HL hinges which are comprised of the usual symmetrical H hinge and an additional L piece which is attached to the door so the hinge has extra strength to hold a heavy door.  This type of hinge looks like the letters HL. As a result, a myth has developed that people in early times were so fervently  religious and feared God’s wrath so much, they put hinges on their doors which signified “Holy Lord” and protected the house from witches.  There is no evidence that this is true. There is ample evidence that the HL hinge protected someone from getting hit by a falling door.

Another myth concerning religion and early times purports that the paneled doors with raised cross pieces represented a cross and an open Bible and so have been called by docents “Cross and Bible Doors.”  This, too, is incorrect.  The cross members provided extra support to the door and did not signify religious belief.

Source: Theobald, Mary Miley “Stuff and Nonsense: Myths That Should Not Be History” Colonial Williamsburg.  Winter 2008: p 67-68


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