During our exhibition, The Age of Walnut, we will be taking a close look at this defining era in the history of English furniture.
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.’
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.’
Tomorrow we will explore the first uses of walnut as timber for furniture in England – stay tuned!