King Billy and the Interesting Little Table

What does William III of England (of William and Mary fame) have to do with the little table I’m planning to build?

king billy

I asked Peter Follansbee if he’d give me his opinion on the design origin of the little table that I’ve discussed in recent posts.  Here’s what Peter had to say:


 Yes, it’s not old, but you know that.

 There are tables, both English & Dutch with this basic configuration. Deep aprons, scrolled cuts this way & that in the bottom edge of the apron. This one’s extreme in that regard. But not too whacky by Dutch standards.

I agree with Mr Plane, the stretchers are too high/tall. The design on them is out of this world, i.e. has no source in furniture I’ve seen.

 Often the tables closest to this are folding tables, usually w a partial octagonal layout in the framing. They’re in Chinnery’s book Oak Furntiture: The British Tradition.

& yes, oak. Never not oak. But saw one in Spanish cedar once. So almost never not oak!


So, there it was, the word Dutch, not just once, but twice.  Dutch.  After some consideration, I concluded that this assessment made perfectly good sense.  After all, it was William and Mary, who ruled England jointly, that ended the Jacobean period (Mary’s Dad), while lending their names to the W&M period.  William III, King Billy to many an Irishman, was William of Orange, as good a Dutchman as you’re likely to find.

I took a brief “side trip” into the contemplation of Dutch architecture.  The use of semi and quarter circles, used alone or in combination with one another,  is a prominent feature of Dutch architecture.  Many times the use of these features if referred to as scalloping.  And this style is prevalent throughout Holland:

dutch house

And, suddenly I had this little epiphany.  You take Jacobean, remove some of the “heaviness”, add some some arcs and ogees and, voila, you’ve got W&M.  Maybe this whole evolution of Period style thing makes some sense, afterall.




William & Mary

William & Mary

I want to thank Peter for sharing his knowledge.  His work has done much to bring this period into sharper focus.  If you’re not reading Peter’s Blog, you’re missing out.  Pete’s the “real deal”, he’s a highly recognized expert on 17th and early 18th century English and American furniture and a master craftsman, as well.  (Study the galleries of Peter’s work.)  Plus, the guy’s one of the best spoon carvers in the world.  He’s a Renaissance man!

I may have to make two of these little tables.  One from curly maple, we’ll call it an anomaly (after all, both Jack and Peter, left me some “wiggle room” there), and a more conventional model, built from Quercus Alba.



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One Comment on “King Billy and the Interesting Little Table”

  1. Derek Says:

    Hi Dennis,

    Looks like a fun project. I hope you’ll consider documenting your build for us all to live vicariously through you! And, you know, it might inspire me to build one as well. The table would be quite nice next to the joynt stool…and I agree with the idea of a rusty nail resting on top!


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