Last week I told you about Cromwell and 17th century happenings in England. This week I want to tell you about the interiors and furnishings before, during and after Cromwell. I found a marvelous resource with useful information that I think you will enjoy as much as I did.
During the Jacobean, Cromwellian and Carolean portions of the Stuart period, that is to say, between 1603 and 1688, the articles of furniture in common use were chairs, stools, forms, settles or settees, love-seats, day-beds, bedsteads, mirrors, tables, footstools, chests, cupboards of sundry sorts, cabinets, buffets and dressers or sideboards.
The contour and style of the furniture of the Jacobean period, as of every other period for that matter, more or less faithfully reflected the social, intellectual and religious temperament and manners of the times. One can scarcely imagine Dean Hook seated in a dainty Sheraton chair, while one of Cromwell’s lieutenants in buff and bandolier occupying an Adam settee would be as absurd an anachronism as Julius Caesar driving abroad in a hansom or a motor car. The furniture was stout and staunch, even to clumsiness and severe in form and line even though bedizened with a superfluity of ornament. It matched the coarse manners, abrupt morals, and vigorous theology of the day with all their grotesquerie, terrible earnestness and redundancy of polemics, brimstone anathema and persecution. Contour and style were both thoroughly in accord with the genius of the people.
PLATE I. JACOBEAN BEDSTEAD, MORETON, SALOP By Courtesy of ” House & Garden”.
In the cabinet work of the later Cromwellian era the contour of carcases remained much the same except that cupboards, while still squatty, were apt to be of greater length and, with the growing strength of Dutch influence, “bun” or ball feet on chests (Fig. 6) or cupboards became more common. Chests of drawers or chests with combinations of drawers and cupboards came more into fashion.
During the Stuart period there is such a diversity of contour resulting from the modification of native English traditions by an increasingly large influx of Continental influences that it is doubly essential to grasp the typical forms as exemplified in the Key at the beginning of the book and the line drawings in the text.
In the truly Jacobean or early Stuart period we find a predominance of straight lines, simplicity of structure and craftsmanship of downright British vigour and energy. All the different sorts of cupboards and dressers were of no great height and even the bedsteads with their ponderous testers carved and panelled, supported on heavy posts, were low – much lower than one would imagine from looking at pictures of them. The squat proportions of the furniture were due to and quite consistent with the usually low-ceiled rooms.
Development in the form of chairs and the marked increase in their number during the three divisions of the Stuart period afford one of the most interesting and instructive features of that fruitful mobiliary epoch. Hardly anything so faithfully and fully reflects the manners and customs of an age and the changes taking place therein as furniture, and of all articles of furniture the chair is by far the most sensitive to new and foreign influences of changing styles – much more so than cabinet work. It reflected not only the flux of fashion but accurately registered political and social changes as well.
In the early Jacobean period, chairs were comparatively scarce, stools and forms being in more general use. These early chairs usually had arms and were seats of great dignity. Both chairs and settles had high seats and usually heavy stretchers between the legs. Chair seats were square or almost so and chair-backs were high and perpendicular or so nearly perpendicular that the rake was scarcely perceptible. The triangular seated and heavily turned chairs, whose pattern had been brought to England, probably by the Normans, were met with but were survivals in type.
The characteristic chair of this date was the wainscot or panelled back chair. These chairs probably owed their inspiration in the first instance to choir stalls. In Elizabethan chairs of this pattern, the top rail bearing the cresting is within the uprights of the back. In Jacobean chairs the top rail caps the uprights and is part of the cresting. These wainscot chairs (Pic. 2, b) continued to be made long after the Restoration. Seats were made high with the express expectation of using either the stretcher or a footstool. There were also occasionally to be found X-shaped chairs pretty well covered with upholstery, but these occurred in the earliest Jacobean days and were so scarce that we can afford to pass them without further mention.
Fig. 2. a, Jacobean Oak “Monks Seat” or Table Chair, c. 1660; b, Jacobean Oak Panel-back or Wainscot Chair, c. 1630. Carved, turned and inlaid.
By Courtesy of Mr. R. W. Lehhe, Philadelphia.
Slightly before the Commonwealth we find the Yorkshire and Derbyshire type of chair with open backs (Fig. 3, a). The uprights ended in carved finials and there were usually two or three carved and hooped crosspieces and these were often further ornamented by acorn pendants. Sometimes instead of the hooped crosspieces, there were several horizontal bars, the spaces between which were filled in with arcades of slender spindles and carved rounded arches.
Fig.3. a, Jacobean Oak Yorkshire Chair, c. 1650. Height of back, 3 feet 7 inches; height of seat, 17 inches; breadth of seat, 18 inches; depth of seat, 16 inches. b, Late Jacobean Walnut Chair, c. 1685, formerly belonging to Robert Proud, now in the collection of Pennsylvania Historical Society. Showing Flemish and Baroque influences in high caned back, scroll carving and ornate arched stretcher between the two Flemish scrolled front legs. Height of back, 52 inches; height of seat, 18 3/4 inches; seat in front, 17 inches; seat in back, 14 inches; depth of seat, 15 inches.
At the time of the Commonwealth chairs were made in much greater numbers than previously, as the democratic principles, then rampant, permitted master and servant alike to use the same kind of seat, whereas, formerly, the use of a chair implied certain dignity and position and the baser sort sat on stools. From this period date the low-backed chairs with turned legs, stretchers and uprights, the upper part of the back and the seat being padded and upholstered (Key I, 2) with leather or some sad-coloured stout goods. The backs had more rake than previously.
At the Restoration, and even before that date, when popular taste was undergoing a revulsion against the spirit of repression and dulness that had so long been uppermost, a fondness for carving, though in altered form, again came to the fore. Open backs appeared in greater number with either caning or vertical balusters or slats.
Top and bottom rails of many chair-backs showed a slight concave curve, more calculated to the sitter’s comfort, while not a few arms were either curved longitudinally or bowed laterally. Others, longitudinally shaped, flared outwards from the posts. The knobbed turning of legs and stretchers, that had been popular in the Cromwellian period, retained considerable vogue for some time after the Restoration and was employed concurrently with the new style of carving.
About 1665 spiral turned legs came into much favour and were used for tables and other articles of furniture as well as for chairs (Fig. 7). This detail of style is apparently attributable to Portuguese influence and probably due to an East Indian source.
Up to the Restoration all the better chairs had been made of oak but walnut now became generally available and lent itself much more readily than oak to delicate carving and turning. Cane-backed chairs appeared at first without cresting, the uprights ending in carved finials. The top and bottom rails of the back were often decorated with a lightly incised pattern of zigzags or roundels. Afterwards cresting was added, usually of acanthus and roses, the latter the royal emblem, from the prominent use of which in the decoration, this particular type of chair gained the name of “Restoration Chair.” Stretchers and uprights as well as legs were spirally turned, while Flemish scrolls and elaborate carving in backs and cresting came more and more into vogue. The caning at first had large meshes which, however, decreased in size in succeeding years.
The next step in chair development was the addition of an elaborately carved, scrolled and usually hooped stretcher between the front legs. Very soon the Flemish scrolled front legs appeared and when these were set obliquely to the seat the approach to the cabriole form at once became evident. In the middle and latter part of Carolean times chairs and sofas with seats and high, square backs, upholstered with gay imported fabrics or some of the handsome textures that were already coming from English looms (Key II, 8) came into fashion. These also had the Flemish legs and highly ornate hooped stretchers.
The last type of Stuart chair to which we must pay special attention is the high and almost perpendicular cane-backed creation of the end of the Carolean epoch, reflecting in every line strong Flemish and Dutch influences (Fig. 3, b.) These chairs showed Flemish legs, scrolled ornament of pronounced Baroque character and caned or baluster backs.
Do any of these look familiar?
Cromwell was not a hero, but he is known for his religious fanaticism and his influence that changed England from industrial and artistic growth to stagnation.
Charles I, the King and Cromwell’s adversary, was tried and executed in 1649. The English civil war was a time of great destruction of ecclesiastical and private property that was followed by the Protectorate under Cromwell.
Art had been associated with corruption, immorality, and inefficiency. A ban was placed on everything that had any appeal to the senses during Cromwell’s rule 1649-1660.
In 1660 the monarchy was restored, and Charles II was called to the throne. Charles and Louis XIV of France were cousins. Charles loved the dreamy, romantic styles of the French King—in his reaction to the repressed and subdued spirit that had prevailed during Cromwell’s Puritan Protectorate, he endeavored to imitate the lavishness and extravagances of the French court.
The Great Fire of London began on the night of September 2, 1666, as a small fire on Pudding Lane, in the bakeshop of Thomas Farynor, baker to King Charles II. At one o’clock in the morning, a servant woke to find the house aflame, and the baker and his family escaped, but a fear-struck maid perished in the blaze.
Detail of the Great Fire of London by an unknown painter, depicting the fire as it would have appeared on the evening of Tuesday, 4 September 1666 from a boat in the vicinity of Tower Wharf. The Tower of London is on the right and London Bridge on the left, with St. Paul’s Cathedral in the distance, surrounded by the tallest flames.
This disastrous fire that destroyed most of London gave impetus to the construction of new homes, public buildings and churches. Sir Christopher Wren, architect, as the leading influence, designed St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
Wren was strongly influenced by Palladio, the Italian architect. Palladio’s work was strongly based on the symmetry, perspective and values of the formal classical temple architecture of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. Charles II supported the art industries, as well as French and Flemish craftsmen.
Daniel Marot, French architect, came to England upon the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Issued on 13 April 1598, by Henry IV of France, it granted the Calvinist Protestants of France (also known as Huguenots) substantial rights in a nation still considered essentially Catholic.
It’s told that 40,000 French weavers came to England at that time.
Do you know any other great occurrences that came from fires?
To be continued . . .
I thought I heard something. I looked up. Nothing. The air was heavy, oppressive in fact, blurry, could the air be blurry? The spirits hovered, as though dangling from the big old trees.
“Tom, did you see that?”
“I don’t know.” It was as though I had experimented with a slew of the same treatments as a teenager on drugs.
There was a living air about the grieving angel, grieving over the dead, as if its arms could really reach out and grab you if you weren’t careful.
Couldn’t resist sharing some of the necessaries of past and present.
Do you know where your 400 year old ancestors are buried?
According to history, about one thousand people embarked for their new home during the year 1630, the first of the eleven years of the “great Puritan migration.” During the time that Charles I attempted to govern England without parliament, nearly twenty thousand men, women, and children were transported to the shores of New England. They went with the idea of establishing churches in which they might worship in the way they preferred.
When Richard Harrison Sr. was told he could not worship as he pleased, he pondered, planned and paid a tidy sum to remove himself and his family from a land of prejudice. He packed their minimum and walked away from where he, his wife, Sarah Yorke, and his five children were all born, the town of West Kirby, England.
They would take one of the ships of the Puritans, on 22 June 1635 to the new world. The Harrison children were Richard Jr. born 1620, Thomas, born 1626, John, Samuel, Mary. It was not long on the ship before the playful children distracted travelers from the difficulties of crowding, unsanitary conditions and unpalatable food.
The Harrisons came to New Haven, Connecticut, and then made their way to Branford, Connecticut, where they founded the town in 1644. The original house is gone, but the one built in the eighteenth century still stands on Main Street as a museum. There is a library in the house with the history of the family written by a Captain Thomas Harrison, who fought in the Civil War. At the end of his writing, he wrote that he hoped someone would continue recording the history of the Harrisons. That is what Gertrude Harrison Claus, born 1910, has done. At the age of one hundred and one, she was remarkable–still healthy, happy, and sharp. She went home to her maker in 2011. She was Mom to me and to her children. Everyone else called her Trudi, short for Gertrude. Trudi was my role model, a liberated, Christian woman. I miss her smile, her love, and her interest in our lives.
One of the brothers, Richard Harrison Jr. and possibly, his sister Mary, left CT for New Jersey. Richard founded Neworke, now Newark, New Jersey. Richard married Sarah Hubbard, had 8 children and became one of 11 founders of Newark, NJ in 1667 and a patentee in 1675. In 1668, he was
one of 6 Newark agents who negotiated its boundary with Elizabeth, NJ. He also was an original town committee member and town surveyor. Newark was founded after 6 years of communication with Peter Stuyvesant of New Amsterdam. There is a plaque in the center of town with Richard Harrison’s name as the founder. I saw the plaque. Richard’s children with his wife Sarah Hubbard had six children, Joseph, born1649, Samuel, born 1652, Benjamin, born 1655, George, born 1658, Daniel, born 1661, and Mary, born 1664.
There is more about the family. Tom’s grandfather, Norman B. Harrison, took his organ, his wife and his children to Skagway, Alaska, in 1898 and founded the Presbyterian Church there. Mom Trudi and our friends Jean and El visited a some years ago and verified they saw his name on a plaque. Later, he came back to the homeland to the state of Washington and founded the
University Presbyterian Church in Seattle. The church is still there. Norman’s writings were about different books of the Bible. I treasure the “The End. Re-Thinking the Revelation”, signed by him to his daughter Gertrude Harrison Claus, on December 15, 1954.
Trudi’s brother, Everett Harrison, was one of the founders of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He too wrote books about the Bible and like his father Norman, was a scholar. For anyone that knows Princeton Theological Seminary, Norman B. Harrison’s name is on the cornerstone.
Trudi Harrison Claus and her son Thomas Harrison Claus, both direct decedents of Richard Harrison Jr. and Mary Harrison, scoured cemeteries in New Jersey. Tom said they found ancestors in a cemetery in West Caldwell, NJ. We never looked in Connecticut. I would like to do that, amidst the beautiful fall foliage.
Another bit of information—Thomas Harrison Claus’s father, Wilbur Claus, a biochemist, discovered Cheerio’s for General Mills, and Tom, also a biochemist, discovered a drug for type 2 diabetes, but it never got to the market.
Tom has three brothers, diluting the Harrison name with Claus, and so it goes. We lose all the Harrisons’ in marriages and births. It becomes almost impossible to find all the linkages. But Mom Trudi said the early Harrisons’ married Smiths, Baldwins, Pearsons’ and others. And by the way, we were told that this end of the Harrison’s are connected to William and his nephew Benjamin Harrison, America’s past presidents.
Should anyone be interested in touching base with me about the Harrison Heritage, just leave a comment with your contact info, and I will get back to you.
First Presbyterian Church of Skagway is the home of God’s disciples who
are called to follow Christ in this unique Alaska setting by living out their mission statement: “As children of God we embrace our call to share the Good News of the Gospel through worship, fellowship and open doors providing a nurturing environment as we grow in Christ and minister to our greater community.”
African Children’s choir: The choir performed three times in Skagway during this past Labor Day weekend -. at the First Presbyterian Church, at the Skagway School. All concerts are free admission. There are CDs available. The African Children’s Choir™ is made up of some of the neediest and most vulnerable children in their countries. Many have lost one or both parents to poverty or disease. The African Children’s Choir™ helps these children break away from the everyday cycle of poverty and hopelessness. Before being selected to join the Choir, children, generally aged between 7 and 11 attend Music for Life camps. These camps are fun and stimulating environments that provide a break from the daily hardships the young children face at home. Children selected to tour will spend approximately five months at the Choir Training Academy in Kampala, Uganda. Here the children learn the songs and dances, attend school, play and attend Sunday School at a local church. Check out their website: http://www.africanchildrenschoir.com/ for more information.
So, Captain Thomas Harrison, who wrote in that Branford book was an ancestor and related to my husband Thomas Harrison Claus.
Any Harrison’s around that are direct descendents of the Richard Harrison Jr. of Newark, NJ?