Styles - Tudor, Jacobean, Cromwellian

TUDOR: Elizabeth I to James I (1558-1603)
Oak was in use for furniture during the reigns of the Tudors, and for most of the seventeenth century as well. It is a heavy and strong wood, which grew plentifully in England but was imported also, and the furniture made from it is both weighty and durable. Being a hard wood it is not easy to carve, although it can be decorated with inlay. On the whole, the hardness of oak determined the styles in which it was made and ornamented, and in spite of the difficulty of working the timber surprisingly elaborate carving and inlay was carried out. Construction was simple: the mortice and tenon joint held fast with a wooden peg, or dowel. The most noticeable feature in design is the exaggerated bulbous turned leg on tables, bedstead posts, and supports on the fronts of cupboards.

JACOBEAN: James I to Cromwell (1603-1649)
Walnut began to be used, but in the solid and then only occasionally. As this wood is prone to attack by woodworm, a great amount of it was probably destroyed and it may have been much more popular than we know. The bulbous support, so popular earlier, is seldom seen and is replaced by simpler turning.

CROMWELLIAN: Oliver and Richard Cromwell (1649-1660)
Oak and walnut remained the principal woods, but the most common feature is again the use of turned ornament. Fronts of chests were decorated with turned columns cut into two halves lengthwise, and inlaid with simple patterns in mother-of-pearl, bone or ivory. Turning on chair and table legs was often in a series of knobs, known as 'bobbin-turning'. Seats of chairs were sometimes of leather, fixed with large brass-headed nails.



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