A rare 400-year-old trestle table has been saved from auction and will be rehomed in the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon.
The museum was recently successful in a bid for almost £10,000 from the Museums Association Beecroft Bequest to keep the Landkey Parish Table in North Devon. The item will be put on display in the museum library, which is being converted into a public research area as part of its extension project.
The Landkey Parish Table is believed to have been assembled inside the Landkey parish house, which is where it stayed for over 400 years. This rare piece is one of only two parish room tables from the sixteenth or seventeenth century known in Devon and is an exceptional example of the workmanship of West Country craftsmen. The impressive table measures almost 17 feet long and is made from a single plank of oak, with fixed benches on either side. One trestle-end is carved with the date 1655 and flanked by the churchwardens’ initials WL and TG (William Lavercombe and Thomas Gould were churchwardens in 1655).
The museum’s bid for funding was supported by the Regional Furniture Society, the Devonshire Association and local historians, who were all keen for the table to remain in the district following the Landkey United Charities decision to convert the under-used parish rooms to a dwelling.
Executive Member for Parks, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Brian Moores, says: “This is a unique and very significant piece of Devon furniture and I’m very pleased our museum team was able to raise the funds to keep it in North Devon. It will fit well in the museum library, where it can continue to be used and appreciated by local visitors to the museum.”
Michael Gee, Secretary of Landkey United Charities, says: “All are agreed that the under-used Parish Rooms will make an attractive dwelling, and it is good that the table has found an accessible local home.”
Dr Todd Gray, author of Devon’s Ancient Bench Ends, says: “The table was secured for the people of North Devon by the museum manager, Alison Mills, who has worked tirelessly to ensure it stays where it belongs – in North Devon. The region has some of the most interesting early wooden carving in England and I hope all those who love North Devon appreciate that Ms Mills harnessed the expertise of specialists around the country in supporting this bid. This really has been a great coup for the people of North Devon!”
Roderick Butler, FSA Furniture Historian, says: “So little sixteenth- and early-seventeenth-century secular furniture with an undoubted Devon provenance has survived that the acquisition of this table for the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon, so close to its original home, is nothing short of miraculous.”
Follow the progress of the museum’s new extension project, including behind-the-scenes photos and information about the new displays at www.barnstaplemuseumblog.wordpress.com.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Bonhams 1973 Ltd