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  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain, UK (made)

  • Date:

    1200-1300 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (production)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oak, carved

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

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Chests were the earliest form of furniture used for storage and could easily be carried from place to place. This one is smaller than most and easily transportable. Chests were used for storing clothes, linen, documents or money and often had locks for security, as in this case. They were used in churches, as well as in houses, to store valuables. This chest is said to have come from a church in Hampshire. The decoration is contained entirely in the chip-carved roundels on the front. Other chests with similar chip-carving have been found, mainly in Surrey and Sussex.

Physical description

Chest, the front and back composed of a single panel flanked by wedge-shaped stiles.The front is carved with three large roundels incised with geometric patterns. The end panels slope slightly inwards and are faced with a framework of chamfered rails halved together and tenoned into the stiles. The plain back board (split at lower edge) is recessed between the rear stiles, where the front is flush with the front stiles. The lid, which is a single, wide board, is fitted with pin hinges (repaired originals), and has rails with curved chamfers fixed on the underside (using large trenails) which fit down into slots. Bottom boards (replaced) running front to back sit in grooves in the front and back panel and stiles. Inside the chest are grooves which held a lidded till. There is a large lockplate in the front.

Place of Origin

Great Britain, UK (made)


1200-1300 (made)


Unknown (production)

Materials and Techniques

Oak, carved


Height: 53 cm, Width: 111 cm, Depth: 49.5 cm

Object history note

Bought for £100 from Arthur Watson, (a dealer) of 13, Saville Row, London W1
RF 26/3246 H.Clifford Smith notes that it had been received 'from a dealer in the West of England', and was 'said to have originally come from a church in Hampshire'

Descriptive line

Chest, British 13th century, with roundels of chip-carved decoration

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

Charles H. Hayward, Antique of Fake? (1970), p.232-3
Eric Mercer, The Social History of the Decorative Arts - Furniture 700-1700 (London, 1969), fig.27
Geoffrey Wills, Daniele Baroni and Brunetto Chiarelli: Il Mobile - storia, progettisti, tipi e stile (Milan, 1983), p. 42
WINDISCH-GRAETZ, Franz: Möbel Europa. 1. Romantic-Gotik. (Munich, 1982), fig. 75
G. Bernard Hughes, 'Chests for plate and for blankets' in Country Life, Oct. 8, 1964, pp. 934-7, plate 1

Labels and date

ENGLISH; about 1300.

The front is framed with wide uprights or 'standards' and the lid revolves on pivots or 'pin hinges', a device seldom found after the 13th century. The chip-carved roundels reflect contemporary architecture treatment. This chest is said to have come from a church in Hampshire. Originally such a chest would probably have been intended for domestic use, but many were later deposited in churches, often containing valuables placed there for safe-keeping in times of trouble. [before 2004]


Oak; Iron





Collection code


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