• Item: Ark / Clamp Chest
• Provenance North England, UK
• Period: Tudor – Elizabethan
• Circa: 1500 – 1600
• Wood: Solid riven oak
• Used for storing food
• Primitive 2-plank front design
• Nailed plank construction
• Arched / dome lid
• Original wrought iron hasp & striking plate
• Original working (restored) lock + key
• Original wooden peg hinges
• Original top, sides, back & bottom
• Original length styles (feet)
• Lovely rich oak colour and patination
• Extremely rare and unusual
• Free 14 day returns policy
Here is a rare antique English primitive oak meal hutch or ark (clamp chest), circa 16th century, in excellent original condition, with sought after proportions displaying a lovely oxblood colour. We believe this chest was constructed around 1500 – 1600, somewhere between the Tudor and Elizabethan period, making it an early example of the first pieces of furniture constructed and used for multiple purposes. These types of chest represent an archaic survival of the medieval clamped-front chest, in which a wide horizontal board is clamped between two vertical stiles, often seen in 15th century furniture.
Such chests were often used in the home, specifically the kitchen or living area, to store corn, meal and bread. They were sometimes also used to store clothes and weapons. The lid was designed to be removed and turned upside down, to be used a kneading trough, hence the peg lid hinges. The chest is primitively constructed from top quality riven oak with butt joints to the corners, held together by handmade wrought iron nails. The lid is constructed with 4 overlapping rough-hewn planks and clamped either side. The four-piece hinged top retains the original wooden peg hinges (which again, is rare to see); they are also in good condition. The chest also features the original wrought iron hasp and decorative striking plate, incorporating the original working lock (restored), with key.
The interior is clean, dry and the chest is practical and usable. The back of the chest features the original rough-hewn boards, along with the original floorboards. The front of the chest boasts primitive etched overlapping ring motif carvings. The chest stands on its original length styles (feet), which is rare to see – they have not been reduced in height
This is an important, early oak ark chest having been around in the days of Henry VIII and later monarchs. This style of primitive chest was constructed all over England from the 16th to 17th century, shows the development of storage furniture to vernacular furniture. It also pre-dates the more refined coffers and chests furniture seen in the marketplace today. The term “ark” apparently gave rise to the surname “Arkwright” (referring to someone who built arks), which was a common name in the north of England. The term “hutch” appears mostly in Southern England.
The chest boasts a rich dark oxblood colour. It has a fantastic colour and patination; this can only be achieved through age and years of care and cleaning it has received.
This item would look great in a variety of rooms from the hallway, to the living room or bedroom, not only as an ornamental piece but also a useful storage chest.
The chest is in good original condition. It features the original iron striking plate, hasp, peg hinges, original floor, top, sides and back. The chest also stands on the original stiles (feet), which is rare to see. The lock is now in working condition, having been restored and cleaned. The lock comes with a working key. There are nominal old marks to the top, leading edges, sides and front of the lid (see photos) but nothing significant considering the age of the item. The interior is clean, dry, and usable. The chest is well constructed, solid in joint and ready to use. Considering the age of this primitive chest, it has stood the test of time and is testimony to the quality of the materials and construction methods used to last this long.
Height = 85cm or 33½” or 2ft 9½”
Width (lid) = 113.8cm or 44¾” or 3ft 8¾”
Width (body) = 110cm or 43⅜” or 3ft 7⅜”
Depth (lid) = 68cm or 26¾” or 2ft 2¾”
Depth (body) = 61cm or 24” or 2ft
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Ref. Coffer 25