Gothic Furniture: Cathedral Style Tables Gothic Furniture: Cathedral Style Tables
Modern gothic furniture often applies the description ‘cathedral style’ to anything that is decorated with an arch design. The traditional tables associated with cathedrals are in three distinct and simple styles.
All altar tables are rectangular in shape. This shape reflects the table used at the Last Supper. Altar tables are seldom decorated, and are often hidden from view by drapes. Since the cathedrals were the homes of monks, all refectory tables were also rectangular. These tables have stood the test of time and their solid construction and constant use have given them a patina that is very hard to duplicate.
Square tables in cathedrals cannot be used as altars, and are often based upon the design used by Joseph when he was released by the Romans. Tradition has it that the table was built for the Holy Grail. In true Gothic fashion, these square tables are often silver colored but not embellished with carvings. They're usually in excellent condition, because they were not intended for heavy and constant use.
Round tables were introduced to display an egalitarian society. It is strange that very few cathedral tables are round. An aspect of round tables is that they do not remain round over the ages. Many round tables were built on pedestal bases because there was a difficulty in reconciling a square base. The pedestals often took on a powerful symbolism of their own, and while a table top might be disposed of or replaced, the pedestal was retained and used for another table or other purpose.
Modern Gothic Cathedral Style Tables
The most popular shape for a cathedral style table is rectangular. They are particularly favored as occasional tables or coffee tables. The arch decorations will often be expressed in metal-work fillers at each end of the table and repeated in carvings on the table legs. Occasional tables are sometimes presented as pedestal tables, with a top that can be folded and latched into the perpendicular position so that they can be stored out of the way.
Dining Tables and Chairs
Because the cathedral style for Gothic tables requires a form of decoration that could prevent people sitting at a dining table, it's unusual to hear of a Gothic dining table. Gothic chairs in the cathedral style are often used to give the impression of cathedral style to a matched table. The chairs can have the arched decorations in metallic style or carved into the chair backs. To make a complete ensemble for a dining room, a Gothic dresser can serve as a side board. The decorations of the chairs can echo in the sideboard doors and drawer fronts.
This type of mixing and matching Gothic furniture can produce some very attractive mixtures and is a way of introducing a type of conformity that is pleasing and unique. Even in a non-Gothic setting, a cathedral style table will be an impressive addition to a room and create a natural point of interest.