1 September 2020
Visitor Assistant Andrew Smith takes a closer look at some of the furniture in the Kettle’s Yard House.
In ‘A Way of Life’ and in several of our internal documents Jim Ede describes this piece as a ‘Cromwellian’ settee. Subsequent keepers have always taken this meaning that it was made in the mid-17th century. Another Jim Ede document describes it as ‘Jacobean’ implying early-17th Century. But maybe Cromwellian style might be more accurate.
Last year we welcomed a group visit from members of the Regional Furniture Society, and there were knowing nods and smiles when I used the word ‘Cromwellian’ about this piece. It was gently suggested that this piece was at least 100 years newer. The timber construction is all original and unaltered, yet the back features ‘fielded’ panels, a style that was unknown until the middle of the 18th century. The fielded panel is essentially flat but with a profile or moulding around its edge, and let into a frame. A mark of high quality craftsmanship in the 18th century.
The seat cushion is supported on a lattice of stretched rope, well, sash cord in this case, in a style that was common in the 17th century. Over time the rope relaxes and has to be tightened – beds were constructed in the same way, hence the expression ‘sleep tight’. Sections of the rope are visible along the top rail just below the cushion.