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Dining Tables

Until the early 19th Century English oak refectory tables were the only form of dining table. Originally the top was formed by one or two planks of wood set on ornately carved legs. Gateleg and dropleaf tables were popular well into the 18th Century, often with hinged flaps, supported on a gateleg base. The table could be made smaller or larger to suit the occasion and was easily portable.

By 1780 in England the first dining tables with a central pedestal were being made. These tables were often called breakfast tables and are usually rectangular. In the 18th and 19th Centuries large tables with D ends were also common. The tops of these were usually supported by two or more pedestals with sections of table top clipped between them.
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The English Victorian dining table was one of the most popular accessories for large scale dinner parties - the size could be made bigger or smaller to suit occasion by the turning of handle that operated a winding mechanism under the table. Different sized leaves could be used according to needs. Victorian tables were characterised by the bulbous hand turned fluted legs, often on castors and hand crafted in mahogany.

Similarly Engish Regency pedestal dining tables worked on a leaf system but minus the winding mechanism. Regency tables were often constructed from walnut with intricate marquetry work including crossbanding to the perimeter. The legs would be three or four feet often on castors for ease of use. English Georgian dining pedestal tables had a similar leaf system but with more ornate hand carved legs.

Refectory Tables

The earliest surviving type of dining table is the trestle table used in the Middle Ages. As the name implies a trestle table consists of a simple plank on two trestles - easy to move around and dismantle so practical for grand halls in castles. By the mid 16th Century it became more common for the master and his family to eat in a separate room and more permanent tables evolved - the term Refectory Table has been applied to these early 'solid' tables since the 19th Century. Styles varied but such tables were popular all over Europe.

The actual term 'refectory' refers to the large dining rooms particularly in monasteries where the monks would gather to eat and drink sitting on benches - around this common style of solid, chunky refectory table. Distinctive features include the solid, hand turned legs connected to the stretcher by dowels. Normally refectory tables are crafted from oak and sometimes the tables will extend. It is common for hand carved details such as interlaced arches to be carved on the apron. Some of the tables have barley twist legs.

Period English oak refectory tables are very sought after and can be expensive - especially with signs of ageing including a patina and other marks of historical use. They are the perfect kitchen dining table as they are very solid and stable, great for withstanding the vigour of daily use. English oak refectory tables look great with benches around, also with Windsor Chairs, Ladderback chairs and spindleback chairs.

Windsor Chairs - Classic English Farmhouse Chair

Windsor chairs were originally developed in the late 17th Century close to High Wycombe in the English county of Buckinghamshire - close to the Royal town of Windsor, hence the name of the chair. Windsor chairs are identifiable by their large shaped seats into which the spindles, arms and legs are socketed.

They generally consist of a mix of woods, normally elm for the seats, ash or yew for the bow, and beech for the legs and spindles with British examples, whilst maple, ash, oak and hickory were commonly used for American pieces.

There are a number of different distinctive forms, including the sack back, hoop back, comb-back in both arm chairs and side chairs. Windsor rocking chairs have also been produced. The earlier chairs are more sought after and hence expensive. Chairs made with yew and mahogany are particularly desirable, as are 'Gothic' style Windsor chairs from the late 18th Century.

They are a design classic, great for that cosy farmhouse look. They are a highly practical chair, comfortable and ready to withstand the rigours of daily use.