A Wonderful 17thC English Oak Refectory Table

Origin: English
Period: Charles II/Stuart
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1680-1700
Length: 62.5 inches
Width: 27.5 inches
Height: 29 inches
Leg Room: 23.5 inches

The seventeenth century oak refectory table having a richly coloured rectangular boarded top with pegged ends on turned baluster legs joined by a low level 'H' stretcher, survives from late seventeenth century Stuart period England.

The condition is hugely evocative of its life thus far and as such is not for those who favour perfection but large doses of Stuart period character. There may be later additions and there is a triangular shaped repair to the top which also has bowing, splits and losses. These include a corner section of loss, and two or three cracks running through the top that have widened with temperature changes throughout its years. The underside of the top is a fabulous grey oak colour, expected with oak of this age. There are sections of gnarled loss to the legs, especially to one in particular and another of the legs looks like a possible later replacement as the turnings are not quite of the same proportions as the other three. The colour and patination is superb to the top and we have given her a light wax. We don’t believe any of these imperfections make the table any less practical but if one is shy of character it may be best to look elsewhere.

A refectory table is a elongated table used originally for dining in monasteries in Medieval times. In the Late Middle Ages the table gradually became a banqueting or feasting table in castles and other noble residences. This example is not as elongated as some and is also a relatively small to medium proportioned example, seating six comfortably. The original table manufacture was by hand and created of oak or walnut; the design is based on a trestle-style. Typically the table legs are supported by circumferential stretchers, as we see here, positioned very low to the floor. In its original use, one or more refectory tables were placed within the monks' dining hall or refectory and the larger refectories would have a number of refectory tables where monks would take their meals, often while one of the monks read sacred texts from an elevated pulpit.

When sitting at this table it is mandatory to use the King’s English; “We have been bidden to dine; tapster, where’s my ale?’