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Tudor Oak Storage Chests

The most common item of tudor furniture, wooden chests, served as seats and tables in addition to providing dry storage space.

There were two main types of wood chests in fifteenth and sixteenth century England. The first were very simple boarded or plank chests made from oak wood from the thirteenth century on. The second kind were joined chests.

15th Century Oak Chests

These wood chests were made from the 13th century and continued to be made through to the 18th century and were invariably made of oak or other locally available wood.

Such chests were put together from, usually six, hewn planks or boards nailed or dowelled together to form boxes and raised off the floor, thus keeping dry, by the extension of the end boards to form primitive legs.

Six Board Chest
Six Board Chest

Other examples were held together with iron bands or straps, the lids being fastened by wire staples linked together to form hinges.

Antique oak chests of this variety can still be seen in medieval era churches in England. Makers of reproductions can be contacted through our resources section.

Joined Storage Chests

During the 15th century the craft of joinery was learnt and was well established by tudor times. Tudor chests designed with the new woodworking techniques had a framework held together with mortise and tenon joints holding panels chamfered on the edges to fit in grooves. Oak dowel pins through the joints secured the mortise and tenon.

The panel and frame method of making English wood chests remained in use until about the mid 17th century, longer in country areas. Its principle advantages lie in its relative lightness and in its allowing for shifting movements in the wood as the panels are not unswervingly fixed in their grooves.

When decorated joined chests had roundels or carving of geometrical patterns, or sometimes panels and stiles were grooved. By 1500 linenfold patterning was used either alone or alongside Renaissance motifs such as heads within medallions; bright paint colours were used for this purpose.

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