A CLOSER LOOK - Settle Down, Bottoms up...
At RYA, we see the best pieces of vernacular furniture as sculpture, unique pieces fashioned by hand, often to serve specific functional purposes, yet with a unique individuality that sets them apart.
This unusual early West Country Tavern Settle is a rare example, with its angled form, suggesting it was set against the wall at one end, (probably the right-side end), with the left side extenidng into the room, presumably angled to face the fireplace.
So, what more can we learn from this uniquely designed tavern seat? Looking closer… you can see that the seat on the left side is paler and more worn than on the right side of the angled joint. Again, looking at the backrest, one sees the wear and golden colour of the timber glowing though the crusty old polish. The aged, log smoke patinated and burnished surface is also more accentuated on the left side and gradually becomes less worn and more uniform as you look right, indicating that the left side was the preferred end to sit, presumably facing the fireplace.
The timeworn faces to the lower parts of the chamfered uprights, exposed edges, and all around the arms, tempt us to run our fingers along them to feel the satisfying smoothness and silky surface of the old elm boards, which juxtapose so pleasingly with the dark build-up of the old dry areas that have seen little wear. This is just the way we like to find things, untouched, authentic, and as they have grown to be. Time and nature lending a tactile surface texture, the magic ingredient.
The timeless simplicity of this functional seat somehow emphasises its robust unpretentious nature and yet there is something exciting and noble about the narrative it’s physical form shares with us today. The tangible sense of its history and the lives of those who have settled in it. How many drinks have rested on that little angled shelf at the right-side end? What tales have been told within its historic cosy embrace?
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