Fig. 150. Oak Shuffleboard Table. - The playing end. 23 ft. 7 ins. long by 3 ft. 1 1/2 ins. wide by 3 ft. 1 1/2 ins. high. - Date about 1620. Astley Hall, Chorley, Lanes.
To consider the column form of table-leg turning it is necessary to retrace our steps and to commence with the sixteenth century again.
Fig. 145 is a remarkable table in the Drapers' Chapel of St. Michael's Church, Coventry, which might, at first glance, be referred to a foreign source. A close examination of the details, especially of the gadrooning of the top framing and its arcading under, will show that this table must be classed with many of the elaborate four-post bedsteads of the time, the English origin of which is unquestionable. There is also strong presumptive evidence that this table is of Warwickshire make, as there are two other examples, obviously from the same hand, but in varying stages of addition, restoration or dilapidation, one on the altar, the other in Trinity Church, all of different sizes, and supported on stages of later date to serve as altar tables. The three are identical in essential details. That they were all three imported is doubtful; it is more probable to suppose that a renowned maker existed in Coventry itself, who was commissioned to make these tables. They are rich, even barbaric, in character, and there is little, if any, of the Gothic influence in their design. They are, in fact, tables of the secular type, and the raising on extra supports must imply that they were not specifically made for Church use.
Fig. 151. The Oak Shuffleboard Table, Fig. 150. - The box end. 122
Fig. 154. Sections Of Frieze Of Oak Shuffleboard Table, Figs. 150 And 151.
Fig. 157. Sections Of Frieze Of Oak Shuffleboard Table, Figs. 150 And 151.
Fig. 160. Sections Of Frieze Of Oak Shuffleboard Table, Figs. 150 And 151.
Fig. 161. The Top Of The Shuffleboard Table, Fig. 150, Illustrated Here In Two Sections - Showing the parqueterie construction, and box at the end,
The top, in this example, is of oak, in five sections, dropped into a rebate in the framing. This has the appearance of a later addition. Originally, the top may have been of marble, onyx or alabaster, which has broken and disappeared. Alabaster was a favourite material for many of the sculptured tombs at this period. It is possible that an important piece, such as this table must have been, was made with a top of this material, especially as with one of wood it would have not been necessary to have sunk the top in a rebate at all.
The importance of this example cannot be over-estimated. It is so usual to refer oak tables of unquestionably seventeenth-century date, to the reign of Elizabeth, that to have a specimen which cannot be later than about 1590, and the English origin of which is almost beyond dispute, is to have a guide in estimating the age of examples to be illustrated at a later stage.
Towards the closing years of the sixteenth century and during the early part of the reign of James I, both tables and chairs were usually much more richly ornamented than at a later date. It is safe in almost even* instance to state that elaborately carved tables are of early period, although after the Restoration there was a brief revival of this rich oak furniture, until walnut became the favourite wood instead of the national oak. The magnificent draw-table from St. Mary's Hall at Coventry, Fig. 146, may be taken as the height of this exuberant early Stuart fashion of the carved columnar leg on a square base. It has also the great advantage of being in its original state throughout, with nothing missing, beyond the wearing of the bases which has brought the stretcherrailing to the floor, and with nothing added beyond an outer lining to the column-bases. It appears to have once been the property of the Fairfax-Lucy family of Charlcote, but how it came into the Mayor's Parlour of St. Mary's Hall is not clear. Other furniture from this old Guildhall will be illustrated in a succeeding chapter tracing the development of oak chairs, when further details of the Hall itself will be given.
Fig. 162 Oak Table. - Date about 1620. - A. Cubitt, Esq.
Fig. 163. Oak Box Table. - First half of the seventeenth century - Messrs. Gregory and Co.
The table is of English oak throughout, with tops of six boards, tongue-jointed and mitre-clamped together. The oak is quartered, pit-sawn and roughly planed. The construction is worthy of note, as it is so seldom that an early seventeenth-century table is to be found in this complete state. The draw-tops extend quite easily, in spite of the age of the table. Tusk tenons are fixed, in slotted dovetails, to the under sides of the extension slides or "lopers" to prevent these tops being entirely withdrawn. The frieze, in the form of a cushion-moulding, is deeply carved in strap-wood patterns, and is carried, in the solid rail, over the squares of the legs. Below is a square-moulded abacus, and the leg is in true columnar form, with taper and entasis, finishing in an Ionic base. The bases are beaded on the edge, but these beads are on facing pieces which have been added at a later date, presumably as a repair. The fluting and strapping of the legs is very fine in execution and unusual in detail.