Tretower Court is a unique building that nestles in the hills above Brecon. It was home to the influential Picard and Vaughan families for the first seven hundred years of its life. In the 18th century its status began to decline (as was true of a number of fine Welsh houses) to the extent that it was used to house farm animals for many, many years.
The house, its grounds and the adjacent castle ruins have now been rescued by the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, Cadw.
As part of the recent representation of its several mid fifteenth Century rooms, we were asked by Cadw and Historical Consultant Dr. Charles Kightly to make, in addition to other pieces, the High table for the magnificent Great Hall.
One is very seldom given the opportunity to produce such an iconic piece of furniture, particularly a table which would be located and used in such an authentically restored setting.
Very few existing tables of this age survive and it was necessary to use early paintings as a guide – Flemish or Italian masterpieces, for example, or ecclesiastical Psalters.
As was the universal convention of the time, the table was to be positioned broadside on the dais at the High End of the Hall with the Lord and his Lady seated centrally and facing the Hall.
A scene from the Luttrell:
There are stylistic variations throughout Mediaeval Europe, but the basic simplicity of form is constant with a demountable top and any number of free standing trestles of cleft and dressed oak.
The table taking shape at our Discoed workshops:
The table was made with a magnificent two-board top and its trestles were carved and painted red, gold and green, displaying the three Suns of York and the snake of the Vaughan family who held Tretower Court in the mid C15th.
Discoed, January, 2013: