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VocalEyes - Shakespeare's Birthplace

Boarded Stool, 1540-1560.



This simple piece of oak wood furniture was made between 1540 and 1560. It's about 50 centimetres wide and stands just under 60 centimetres high. The wood is now a matte brown. Boarded stools were constructed of squared or shaped boards that were nailed or pegged together. They would have been cheaper and less robust than furniture which made use of joinery techniques.

The design uses a piece of board either side for legs, with another board joining them across the top as a seat. This basic structure is then strengthened by "aprons" - thinner pieces of board which are nailed across the front and the back, just below the seat.

Although simple in design, decoration was still possible, by shaping and piercing the boards. On this stool the legs flare out at the bottom, with a small diamond shape cut in the centre. The wooden aprons are about 30 centimetres deep and contain three simple pierced shapes: in the centre a large rounded tear drop, to each side a semi-tear drop, straight edge parallel to the bottom of the apron. It's like the top half of a stylised flower.

Shakespeare mentions stools in several of his plays. In Henry VI, Part II - Act II, Scene 1- the Duke of Gloucester says:

“Now fetch me a stool hither by and by. Now, sirrah,
if you mean to save yourself from whipping, leap me
over this stool and run away”.