As the internal refurbishment of the Bridge Chamber progresses it’s time for us to gradually begin reinstating the contents, ready to bring it back into use.
One of the first things to be brought into the building (after the iron Gurney stove, in case you’re wondering) is actually a new acquisition, in the form of a very large table for the Courtroom.
However, finding a new table to appropriately reside in a Victorian Bridge Chamber is no easy task. Especially when the table has to be long enough to comfortably sit the full Court of Wardens and Assistants for meetings and also easy to dismantle to allow the room to be put to other uses.
The table we eventually found – with the help of an antique dealer – apparently comes from a country home in the West Country. Although little is known about its history, it’s dated some time around 1880, which coincides nicely with the year of the first meeting held in the building.
What we do know is that it follows the design of a Gillows Imperial dining table (Gillows having been a highly respected furniture making company of the time). The style of this particular table, the Imperial, became popular in the early 19th century, because it is very adaptable. The pullout action of the table makes it easy to extend while maintaining stability.
Our table is a rarity because of its size. It has nine extension leaves which allow it to vary in length from 1.8m/6ft to 6m/19ft 6in, and is capable of seating up to 24.
For those interested in the detail, the table is mahogany with a reeded edge top. It has a beaded apron finish to the ends and stands on very fine turned and tapering reeded legs terminating in brass cup casters.