The Origin of the Modern Refectory Table
Utter the word ‘refectory’ and we immediately think of monasteries and huge dining halls. And the modern refectory table still has that connotation today. But the word refectory was not given to the original table used in this way. Antique dealers of the the 19th and 20th centuries used the association to evoke a romantic connection to a bygone era. A very successful marketing plan to attract customers in an age when all things monastic were the rage.
The ‘Long table’ as it was originally called, was indeed used in banqueting halls in medieval times. And a series of tables were often joined together to provide one very long table. The adoption of the refectory table for domestic use away from the monasteries was first recorded in 16th Century Europe.
The Original Table Design
Whether the description of the refectory table is correct or not, the basic design remains largely the same. A table base consisting of four legs, one in each corner or spaced at intervals along the length for longer tables. The legs are then all joined together with a series of ‘rails’ (or ‘side rails’ as we call them) at the top. These are mirrored with stretchers running between each leg at the bottom. The table top then sits over this heavy frame.
Scale Drawing of a traditional refectory table design
The side rails, legs and stretchers were all joined using mortise and tenon joins. These joints are then drawer bored (or drilled) and pegged. This method of frame joinery has remained virtually unchanged since its’ origins in the 15th century. And it is the exact same method that we use at Makers Bespoke Furniture to construct all our dining tables.
Modern Refectory Tables by Makers Bespoke Furniture
Our own modern refectory table designs are based on the basic principles of the original. The modern interpretation of the style however seems much more relaxed in the 21st century. We no longer need to have 4 legs as long as the legs are joined with stretchers. Neither do the table legs have to be straight. We have added curves and arches on legs and stretchers to create some rather less formal lines on our oak refectory tables. We like to think that our table designs combine the original monastery simplicity with modern rustic style.
The Bespoke Refectory Table
The style of our Bespoke Refectory Table is very closely related to the traditional monastic design. It has 4 square legs joined with side rails, and stretchers. We have also added horizontal carved bands at the base and top of each table leg.
The Contemporary Oak Refectory Table
We have designed this Oak Refectory Table with a rather more contemporary feel with its’ slightly angled legs, stretcher and beautiful curved arches. Our handmade Oak Zen Dining Bench compliments the design perfectly.
The Oak Pedestal Refectory Table
This handmade refectory table has beautiful scrolling curves and wide feet. The square pedestals are 18 cm wide, with chamfered corners narrowing to 16 cm. The traditionally pegged stretcher bar at the base ties all these elements together.
The Curved Base Refectory Table
We have designed the Curved Base Refectory Table with a traditional pegged stretcher that joins two beautifully curved ‘omega’ ends of the base.
We can make any of our refectory tables to standard or bespoke sizes. If you are unsure about what size table you might need then do visit our Sizing Advice page for tips on where to start. Contact Us or call us on +33 (0)2 43 09 63 70 with any questions you may have. We will be delighted to hear from you.
MAKERS BESPOKE FURNITURE