Furniture Page 1/2


Useful books and links on the history of furniture design including this period:

The Age of Oak, Percy Macquoid,

Early English Furniture and Woodwork by Herbert Cescinsky, Ernest. R. Gribble (online)

Old Oak Furniture,  Fred Roe (online)

Design Period of Oak Furniture (online)

Style in furniture; (1920 ed.) . H. Davis Benn. (online)


With thick single-plank top supported on trestle ends joined by a central stretcher
30 in. (77 cm.) high; 91½ in. (232 cm.) long; 28 in. (71 cm.) deep tapering to 24½ in. (62 cm.) . For more info see:

Family at dinner at refectory table. Adults sitting on stools, children appear to be standing.

This table is of joined construction, with mortise and tenon joints. Joined tables came into use after about 1550, replacing trestle tables. It is a plain table which was probably used both for eating and for general use. The diners mostly sat on long benches or stools on either side. The under-frame is made of oak but the top is elm. Oak was mostly imported, but elm was a common hedgerow tree, readily available to country joiners. c. 1600-1630. For my info see:

17th century gate-leg table. Heavy bobbin turned legs united by stretchers, with shaped frieze drawer. 60" long when open x 37.5" deep x 31" high. For more info see:

There are seven extant folding tables at Cotehele House, all made in the early to mid seventeenth century from timber grown and felled on the estate. Three are currently on display, one each of oak, walnut and chestnut. Each is made differently and has a slightly different locking mechanism. As a cheap and easy to make table, they weren’t much valued and as a result, few survive.
This style originates in Spain where it continued in use until at least the mid-19th century. For more details and views of the tables see:

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School room with teacher, sat in an armchair, and pupils, sat on a bench.

Benches, or forms, were a simple and functional form of seating for dining halls, school rooms, law courts and so forth. They were inferior in status to the chair, and courtiers or senior officials would have avoided sitting on them. Those who did would have used cushions where possible for greater comfort. For more details see:

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Boarded oak stool with one carved rail (its pair missing), on two supports carved at the feet with an ogee-shape. The rail (8mm thick) has shaped ends and is pierced with two semi-circles flanking a central ‘keyhole’ shape.Construction
The stool originally consisted of five (one rail missng) oak boards varying in thickness. Both inward-sloping side pieces (18-20mm thick) with shaped edges that are chamfered on the inside, fit into a shallow rebate in the underside the seat board, and are cut with two deep slots to receive the front and back rails. The seat board (18-20mm thick) has a moulded edge all round, and is held with 6 dowels onto the side-pieces, effectively holding all the elements of the stool in place. For more info see:

Early 17th century oak boarded stool. English c. 1600.
The single planked top above shaped friezes ,with planked ends, joined by a stretcher.
20.5" high X 21" wide X 13" deep.

Stools were perhaps the most common form of seating and were found in large numbers in any house. Sometimes they were upholstered en suite with the bed, chairs and curtains of a bedchamber. They were, however, reserved for people lower down the hierarchy than those entitled to a chair. Randle Holme's Academy of Armory (1688) contains a table of everyday objects. They include a 'joynt stoole', made up of a wooden seat set on four legs; an ordinary stool covered with upholstery, so more expensive; and a 'turned stoole', consisting of a triangular wooden seat placed just below the tops of three rounded or turned legs.

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Early backstool, showing it's origin as a stool with a back added. Mid 17th century.

This is a remarkable survival of an early 17th-century 'backstool' with its original upholstery, nearly 400 years old. The 'backstool' was essentially a chair without arms, but as the name makes clear, it evolved by adding a back to a stool rather than by taking the arms away from a chair. Before this development, seating mainly took the form of stools and benches, and a house would have held at most one armchair, to be occupied by the most important person present (the owner or an honoured guest).
The seat of this chair, beneath the covers, is a fully-formed cushion - a ticking case filled with feathers - which has been nailed down to the frame. This way of forming the seat reveals its development from the use of loose cushions on top of a wooden seat, and marks the beginning of the practice of fixed upholstery.

This is a typical small chair dating from about 1640-1660, made for use rather than display. The sturdy construction and leather covers would have withstood regular use, possibly as a dining chair. The seat is strengthened by a plain, square-section back and side stretchers, the lower ones at floor level. For more info see: .

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Frontispiece from "Matthew Hopkins' The Discovery of Witches (1647)", showing 'witches' identifying their familiar spirits, seated in armchairs.

Oak. c. 1630-1660. This simple and strong armchair was a common type in the 16th century. Chairs of this type would be used in large farms or manor houses. There would only be one or two of these chairs in the house; other household members would sit on benches, stools or simpler chairs. This chair is made entirely of oak, with decoration in the form of relief carving and turning. For more info see .

17thc Ash Child's Turners Chair, turned on a pole-lathe, unusual as it has four legs as opposed to the normal three. C1640. For more info see:

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‘Glastonbury’ Chairs

This type of chair has proved very useful to re-enactors as it knocks down flat for transportation. However the medieval style is not really suitable for 17th C re-enactment, so I was pleased to see the following high backed models which, although later than period, are a better alternative.

A primitive elm ‘Glastonbury’ chair in untouched condition, from the Welsh borders. This model was first made in the late 16th early 17th Century and we think this is a country made example c. 1840. For more info see:,a-primitive-elm-glastonbury-chair.html

Oak Gothic 'Glastonbury' Chair
With wonderful carvings and crenelation to the top rail.

Still under construction – Chests, Cupboards, Settles, Beds and Children’s furniture to come.

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