The Age of Walnut: A History

A William and Mary Walnut Lace Chest on Stand Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection
A William and Mary Walnut Lace Chest on Stand
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

During our exhibition, The Age of Walnut, we will be taking a close look at this defining era in the history of English furniture.

A George II Walnut Chair in the manner of Giles Grendey with Needlework Seat Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection
A George II Walnut Chair in the manner of Giles Grendey with Needlework Seat
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

As the name suggests, the furniture of this period in the late 17th and early 18th centuries was predominantly made in walnut.The walnut tree’s botanical name Juglans is taken from Roman mythology: it was believed that Jupiter fed on walnuts when he was on earth, and the tree became known as the ‘royal nut of Jupiter.’ 

A George I Burr Walnut Chest of Drawers Mackinnon Fine Furniture
A George I Burr Walnut Chest of Drawers
Mackinnon Fine Furniture

Walnut trees are not native to England, but they were introduced by the Romans who used them for both their nuts and oil.  By the Middle Ages, the trees were almost extinct and walnut was considered an exotic timber.  The name walnut comes from the Anglo-Saxon term wealh-nut, meaning ‘foreign-nut.’ 

A George I Burr Walnut Bureau Bookcase Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection
A George I Burr Walnut Bureau Bookcase
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

Tomorrow we will explore the first uses of walnut as timber for furniture in England – stay tuned!

2 thoughts on “The Age of Walnut: A History

  1. Pingback: The Age of Walnut: A History (cont.) | The Source

  2. Pingback: Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn | The Source

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