Reproduction Oak Furniture
Brights have an excellent relationship with one of the country’s most talented oak craftsmen with whom we take on a variety of interesting projects; from creating bespoke oak panelling for period houses, to recreating individual classic pieces of reproduction oak furniture from a seminal reference book on the subject. All the pieces are entirely hand built, using traditional methods such as pegging, dowelling, gluing and dovetail joining. They are truly beautiful items, and we think the finest reproduction oak furniture pieces in the country.
The History of English oak furniture
When one considers Reproduction English Furniture, perhaps the first material which springs to mind is Oak. The great tradition of English Furniture is inextricable linked with this wood. The Oak native to Northern Europe is known by the Latin name Quercus Robur (l. Oak & Strength), in English; the Pendunculate or English Oak, which is something of a national emblem – King Charles II hid inside an oak tree from the Parliamentarians, and the vast majority of Britain’s sailing ships were built from Oak. Oak trees can live for many hundreds of years: The oldest in England is thought to be around 1000 years old.
Strong durable and hard wearing oak furniture
On a practical level, the reasons for constructing furniture from Oak are very easy to understand. It is strong, durable and hard wearing. Until not so long ago, it was commonplace (being a Native Hardwood), and thankfully steps are being taken to ensure that we will always have Oak trees present in our woodlands.
Setting trends in oak cabinet making
Traditionally, Oak Furniture was completely “classless” – everyone from farmers to King’s would have had predominantly Oak furniture. Of course, the quality and methods of construction would have been quite different – from simple three legged stools to cabinets inlaid with delicate fruitwoods. As England became more and more influenced by foreign design concepts (from the time of Wm II & Mary III), Oak furniture gave way to much “finer”, “prettier” (ultimately more exotic) woods, which leant themselves better to elaborate carving and marquetry trends in cabinet making.
Cultural “trading” in reproduction oak furniture design
It is not to be assumed that oak furniture did not develop. It was still very popular amongst professionals, and we see many fine examples of oak desks and bookcases which would have graced the interiors of the leading Doctors, Lawyers and Military Leaders of the day. It is interesting to consider that from the time of settlers travelling to the Americas, we see elements of cultural “trading” in furniture design – Mahogany (native to North America) was brought back as ballast on ships, and used here initially just to embellish oak furniture in the form of cross banding, and other accenting features. This is a feature we continue to include in our reproduction oak furniture pieces.
The revival in the mid – late 19th c
Oak furniture experienced a real revival in the mid – late 19th c around the Gothic Revival period. This had begun with Pugin’s fastidious, almost obsessive desire to return to mediaeval architectural themes and morals, and filtered down through the Victorian era, who saw oak as an “honest” material in keeping with the new Victorian morals which were a world away from the decadence and liberty of the Georgian (and particularly Regency) Era. Oak was favoured by Arts and Crafts style architects such as Charles Voysey and was used in the highly Victorian medieval Gothic furniture of Burges.
English Oak furniture nowadays
Nowadays, english oak furniture is becoming more and more classless again– it is used for the simplest of farmhouse kitchen tables, and also in some of the most exclusive interior design projects in the country. It is an incredibly “useable” wood, with which almost anything can be done.