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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1600-1720 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oak, joined, with carved and turned decoration

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mr E. Peter Jones

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    On display at Lamport Hall, Northants

Stools of this kind were called ‘joint’ or ‘joined’ stools, because they are made using mortise and tenon joints. This was a technique used by joiners to link the parts of furniture using a tenon, or pared-down end, which slotted into a mortise, or rectangular hole. It would then be locked in place with wooden pegs. Stools were the most common form of seating. More expensive stools, especially those made for bedchambers, were covered with upholstery which might match the bed hangings.

This example has a wooden seat and is well-made. The legs were shaped by turning on a pole-lathe, after which further decoration was carved; the carving on this example is unusually elaborate. Stools would have been particularly useful with ‘draw’ tables, which became popular around 1600. These had extra leaves that could be 'drawn' or pulled out, to increase the size of the table top.

On loan to Lamport Hall.

Physical description

Oak joint stool, the seat with a simple moulded edge; the legs are turned with carved decoration. The single-piece top is held to the frame with four pegs, at the corners. The lower edges of the seat rails (which were sawn) have carved decoration; the rails double-pegged. The legs are joined at the base by four plain stretchers (single-pegged).

With a dark stain overall. The feet wormy.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1600-1720 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Oak, joined, with carved and turned decoration

Marks and inscriptions

Brand under the seat. An owner's mark


Height: 53 cm, Width: 46 cm, Depth: 28 cm

Object history note

Given by E. Peter Jones Esq. of Greenbank, Chester.
'worm-eaten: pieces of fret missing...Period of James I'
No further information about this stool on the acquisition papers.

Descriptive line

English c.1600

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

H. Clifford Smith, Catalogue of English Furniture & Woodwork
(London 1930), cat. 553, Plate 17.
Dictionary of English Furniture (Country Life 1924-7, 2nd rev. ed. 1954, 3 vols. See entry for Desks p.205
Fred Roe, Old Oak Furniture (London, 1908), p.194
Charles Tracy, English Medieval Furniture and Woodwork (London, 1988), no. 314

'DESK or CUPBOARD for books. Carved on the back and sides with two rows of Gothic arcading enriched with tracery Within a slightly moulded framework; the front is plain with the exception of two carved lions’ masks at the upper corners. The framed sloping top opens on hinges, and the interior is fitted with a cupboard with a hinged lid. The lower part of the desk is missing. The lock plate and the book ledge are post-medieval (PL.114a, b & c).
Oak. Last quarter of 14th century
97x 83.8x 54.6cm
Mus. No. 143-1898
This an extremely rare example of a medieval desk-cum-book cupboard. It is without doubt authentic and English, It is a great pity that it has lost the lower part of its panelling and its base. Two decorative features point strongly to England. The trefoil tracery in the super-arches of the back panel is stilted in the characteristically early Perpendicular Way (compare stall-ends at Lincoln Cathedral, See Fig.39). This same trait could also be found on a fragment of panelling from the York Minster choir- stalls in the Roe collection (illustrated in Roe 1910, PL.xvI) [sic] where the tracery pattern is sexfoil. The date of the construction of the York stalls is about 1390 (Francis Bond, Wood Carvings in English Churches: I. Stalls and Tabernacle Work and II. Bishops’ Thrones and Chancel Chairs, London, 1910, p.58). The treatment of the lions’ masks on the front of the desk is another parallel with Lincoln, in particular the same treatment of the hair in whorls and ear shape (Pics. 56a & b). The Lincoln stalls must have been manufactured in about 1370 (See CAT.67). The placing of these masks is reminiscent of the use of this motif on choir-stalls on the standards underneath the capping (compare Chichester Cathedral)'.

Helena Hayward, (Ed.), World Furniture. (London, 1965), p.34, fig. 85
H. Clifford Smith, Catalogue of English Furniture & Woodwork. Vol.II. - Late Tudor and Early Stuart (London 1930), cat. 320. plate 48

Books chests and desks of this kind (armariola), with lids set at an angle on which books might be laid whilst being read, are often represented in illuminated MSS, with St. Jerome or other Doctors of the Church, scribes at work, etc. Compare Laborde, 'Les MSS. à Peintures de la Cité de Dieu de St. Augustin,' 1909, pl. XCVII (1473), etc. A rare example of medieval domestic furniture.
William H. Lewer and J. Charles Wall, The Church Chests of Essex (London, 1913), p.17, illustrated in a line drawing on p.18

'Similar receptacles for books may often be seen in ancient pictures of the studies of medieval scribes and limners...another of the fifteenth century in the Victoria and Albert Museum has a framed lid set at an angle on which books might be laid whilst being read.'
DIETRICH, Gerhard: Schreibmöbel von Mittelalter zur Moderne. (Munich, 1986).
Oliver Brackett (revised by H. Clifford Smith), English furniture illustrated. (Spring Books, London, nd). [Originally published under the title of An encyclopaedia of English furniture, London : E. Benn, 1927]




Carved; Turned




Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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