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Gate-leg table

Gate-leg table

  • Place of origin:

    England (Probably Devon or Somerset, made)

  • Date:

    c1600 (made)
    c1900 (restored)

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    On display at Turton Tower, Bolton

Pieces of 16th and 17th century furniture have often been restored but sometimes they have been adapted during this process, obscuring the original design. This semi-circular table incorporates a framed 'gate' that swings out from the main frame to support a folding leaf. (The right back leg consists of two elements, one of which swings out to support the folding top.) It is clear that the hinged top is not original, and some aspects of construction are unusually crude in comparison with surviving furniture from about 1600. One possiblity is that the folding top and gate were created as part of the elaborate restoration in about 1900 of a genuine, static, semi-circular side table.

Folding tables are listed in English inventories from the 15th century but very few have survived from before 1600.

On long term loan to Turton Tower, Bolton.

Physical description

Semi-circular gate-leg side table with 3 turned legs and plain rails. The top is formed of two hinged flaps, the upper when opened makes a circular top, resting on a hinged 'gate' support formed of half of the right back leg; the bottom flaps acts as the lid of a compartment. The front of the compartment is carved with strapwork designs with a pyramidal 'jewel' ornament in the centre.

The carved frieze is made up from two sections of bent sheet meeting in a scarf joint. Below the frieze is a nailed moulding. The bottom of the compartment is of elm and oak boards, nailed up.

Heavy staining and possibly distressing.
Missing two cabochon ornaments.

Place of Origin

England (Probably Devon or Somerset, made)


c1600 (made)
c1900 (restored)


Height: 74.5 cm table open, Height: 76.5 cm table with top closed, Width: 112 cm, Depth: 108.5 cm table open, Depth: 54.5 cm closed

Object history note

Oak Table, purchased from Mr T. Charbonnier, The Art Gallery, Lynmouth for 25. 12s. 2d
Notes from R.P. 2267/07 and 2776/07

27/5/07 Minute paper
notes that "our collection of English furniture…is still very deficient…owing to great demand…pieces are rapidly increasing in rarity and value, and it behooves us to increase our collection whenever a favourable opportunity offers itself….There are no pieces of furniture resembling those detailed in this list (from Charbonnier) in the Museum, and all are required to help towards the completion of the section…We paid particular attention to the authenticity of the various pieces. There are a few repairs but nothing has been done to them beyond what is absolutely necessary."

A typed list
Includes the description:
"4. Oak Table, with semi circular top and folding flap; legs of pillar form. A very rare specimen of 17th century work."
A similar handwritten listing includes the notation "(C photo: attached) £28"

M2776/07 Report on Objects received from Charbonnier
Includes among the objects listed 25.12.2 425 "4. Oak table with semi circular top and folding flap, legs of pillar form. 17th Century. 28….."

A very similar table, with slightly different frieze design was recorded c1970 (details on FWK local file).

Descriptive line

Semi-circular gate-leg table in oak, with hinged top and compartment with carved frieze

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

H. Clifford Smith, Catalogue of English Furniture & Woodwork
(London 1930), 614, Plate 34.

Side Table; semicircular in plan. The top is formed of two hinged flaps, the upper when turned back completing the circle; the under one covers a compartment, the front of which is carved with strapwork designs with a pyramidal 'jewel' ornament in the centre. The table has three turned baluster legs joined below by plain rails; the upper flap rests on a 'gate' support formed of half of one of the legs.

West Country. First half of 17th century.
From catalogue H. 2 ft. 7 in., W. 3 ft. 8 in. by 3 ft. 7 in. when open.
(H. 78.7 cm, W. 111.8 cm by 109.2 cm when open.)

H.P. Benn and H.P. Shapland, The Nation's Treasures (1910), plate 12, page 38
Dictionary of English Furniture (Country Life 1924-7, 2nd rev. ed. 1954), Percy Macquoid and Ralph Edwards (1924-7), vol. III 'Tables, Gate-leg' p. 234, fig.1
Anthony Wells-Cole, An Oak bed at Montacute: a study in mannerist decoration (Furniture History, 1981 pp.1-19), p.3
'The formal strapwork frieze can be found on virtually every category of moveable furniture...' and associated with West Country (Devon) woodwork


Oak; Elm


Carving; Turning




Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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