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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1620 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (makers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oak, turned and joined

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 58, Bromley-by-Bow Room, case FS

Object Type
Benches, or forms, were a simple and functional form of seating for dining halls, school rooms, law courts and so forth. They were inferior in status to the chair, and courtiers or senior officials would have avoided sitting on them. Those who did would have used cushions where possible for greater comfort.

Materials & Making
The seat of the bench is made of a long piece of oak, probably cut by two sawyers, one standing above the log and the other below, in a pit. The grooves along the edges would have been made with a gouge or a scraper. The legs are partly turned and their tops form square tenons, which slot into mortises on the underside of the bench. The long stretcher and frieze below the seat were probably added between about 1890 and 1910.

By about 1600, English furniture was often decorated with classical features derived from engravings by continental designers such as Hans Vredeman de Vries (1527-?1606) and Sebastiano Serlio (1475-1554). Centuries later, in the years leading up to the First World War, dealers and collectors often had their own ideas as to what this sort of furniture should look like. Sometimes new elements were added, in a style that was considered authentic, to make the object more saleable.

Physical description

Bench of oak, the framework below the seat is carved on all sides with lunette ornament, the baluster legs at either end are united by a single broad central stretcher.

Place of Origin

England (made)


ca. 1620 (made)


Unknown (makers)

Materials and Techniques

Oak, turned and joined


Height: 55 cm, Width: 246.3 cm, Depth: 33 cm

Object history note

Bench, bought from Mr W E Palmer, 38 Gloucester Road, SW7, 17 November 1923 for £35

R.P. 23/7724

Listed on Purchase Form
as "1. Bench; oak, with turned legs and stretcher rail, Jacobean…………..£35".

15/11/23, Minute Paper H Clifford Smith to Col. Strange
informs of this early 17th century bench. "It is 8 feet long, the framework is carved all round with well designed lunette ornament, the baluster legs at either end being united by a simple broad central stretcher. It is one of the best examples of an oak form I have yet come across, and is in very fine condition…£35 is a reasonable £ for such an unusually good specimen; it would fill a conspicuous gap in the Museum collection; and form a valuable supplement as regards date, size and decoration to the Kiddal Hall table… it would, furthermore, add greatly to the completeness of the forthcoming catalogue of late Tudor or early Stuart furniture to be able to include in it so characteristic a piece of furniture".

Despite a lack of funds, Col. Strange is able to persuade the Director to purchase it on the
Strength of Clifford Smith's report and Strange's own view that "it is the class of object very much used by the students from technical schools who come here".

Descriptive line

Oak bench with turned legs. English, ca. 1620.

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

H. Clifford Smith, Catalogue of English Furniture & Woodwork
(London 1930), cat. 562.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Forms and stools provided seating for most people in rooms such as this. They could be placed against a wall or used with a table for dining. [27/03/2003]








Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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