This tapered bulb is one of the few details in leg-turning which appear to have been confined, exclusively, to Norfolk and Suffolk. The Earl Stonham table is an early example of the form, the legs here being carved, whereas, towards the end of the seventeenth century, carving was nearly always omitted, decorative use being made of rings either of simple bead or astragal section. At this date, also, the bold hollow dividing the leg into two unequal portions is generally dispensed with. This later type, in its most elaborate form, strongly suggestive of Dutch influences, has already been shown in the open buffet, Fig. 111 of the preceding chapter. The fine draw-table from Grundis-burgh, Fig. 137, is the typical East Anglian version of this tapered vase leg, which may, possibly, have been inspired by the Chinese pottery forms which had begun to find their way into England at this date, from the Dutch merchants trading in the East. The frieze of this table is inlaid with a herring-bone pattern of a lighter wood, below which is a carved band of thumb-section. The turned legs are of admirably restrained form, with simple Ionic caps above. The table has the dignity which is characteristic of East Anglian work of the later years of the seventeenth century.
Fig. 146. Oak Draw-Table. - 7 ft. 1 in. long by 2 ft. 9 3/4 ins. wide by 2 ft. 5 3/4 ins. high. - Date about 1605-10. St. Mary's Hall, Coventry.
Sutton Courtenay Church possessed a complete unaltered table, Fig. 138, with the exception of some replacement of the stretcher-framing. There is a curious admixture of vigour and crudeness in the fashioning of the octagonal-sectioned legs which may be taken as indicative of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire tables of this period. This oak table has the fine dull metallic sheen which original early oak possesses when it has not been varnished, either originally or subsequently. It has also the peculiar high lights (or rather half-lights) on the exposed edges and angles, which the forger of antique furniture always fails to reproduce, in nearly every instance exaggerating this effect in a manner which an expert eye can detect at a glance.
Fig. 147. Oak Table. - 5 it. 6 ins. long by 2 ft. 3 ins. deep by 3 ft. 3 ins. high. - Date about 1610-20. St. Michael's Church, St. Albans.
It is towards the middle of the seventeenth century, when the desire for ornament was more subdued, that these bulb-leg tables became refined. In obedience to the law before mentioned, construction and details became lighter, with the bulb attenuated, but more graceful in outline. There is no longer the great mass of timber dwindling down to a mere spindle at the top and bottom, as in the table in the Vicars' Hall at Exeter, for example. The long table from Cassiobury Park, Fig. 139, shows this refined mid-seventeenth-century manner very well. There is the thin top of this period, in long narrow boards with small end clamps, the fluted frieze with shallow brackets at the junction of the framings with the squares of the legs, and the plain stretcher-railing flush with the fronts of the lower squares, all details of the 1640-50 period and of the Home Counties.
Fig. 148. Oak Table. - 5 ft. 9 ins. long by 2 ft. 1 in. deep by 2 ft. 10 ins. high. - Date about 1620. Christchurch Priory.
Stonham Aspal altar table, Fig. 140, is of about the same date, but is the East Anglian version of the manner of the Cassiobury table. The bulbs are somewhat attenuated, as compared with those of earlier date, and the legs have the Ionic capitals as at Earl Stonham and Grundisburgh, but the ornament is everywhere more restrained. This table, in common with nearly all others in churches, has suffered from repairs and additions.
It is impossible to account for the close similarity between many of these oak tables of the middle seventeenth century other than in the hypothesis that they originate from nearly the same district. Even if the Home County origin of the table from Cassiobury were disputed, it must be admitted that Fig. 141 is from the same locality, whatever that may be. Here we have the same bulb, turned from the square-thickness without the paring down, above and below, which we find in the tables of the East, West and Southern Counties of England. There is the same flat bracketting of the frieze rails, at their junctions with the leg-squares, in both cases. The small table shown here has its stools to correspond, which are made so that they will fit, laterally, between the table legs. There is the prevalence of a long-existing fashion evident in its design and proportions. This is a type which has evolved, through many intermediate stages. The table from Holywells, Fig. 142, is more ornate, and somewhat later in date, but not in development. Here the turning is cruder, as if it were fashioned by hand, and the general appearance is somewhat marred by the capping to the stretcher-rails. This table exhibits strong Dutch influence, and may be actually of foreign make.
Fig. 149. Oak Table. - 19 ft. 8 ins. long by 2 ft. 10 1/2 ins. deep by 2ft. 9 ins. high. - Date about 1620. The Earl of Chesterfield.
The attenuated bulb develops by a gradual cutting away of its lower extremity, until it assumes, first, the appearance of an inverted vase, and from this to the cup-and-shaft turning of the Orange period is only a step further in development. This evolution can be traced, in its inception, in the long table, Fig. 143, and in the next example, Fig. 144, the beginning of the cup-turned leg can be seen quite clearly. The first has the frieze-rail carried over the square of the central leg, - generally a Yorkshire or Lancashire device, but sometimes found also in East Anglia, - whereas in the latter this rail is tenoned into the squares, in the centre as well as the ends. It has the bracket-finish of Figs. 139 and 141, but this bracket is not so flat, and is distinct from the frieze rail, details indicative of Norfolk or Lincolnshire rather than the counties further south. That this table came from Kiddal Hall, in Yorkshire, does not necessarily imply that it had its origin in that county.