It might surprise you to know that the concept of keeping up with the Joneses is not a relatively new phenomenon. One-upmanship can be linked back to ancient African tribes where the chief sat on a stool not necessarily for comfort, but so that he could be ‘one up’ or a foot above everyone else.
In Britain the stool was more for the common man rather than the local chief. It became more elaborate as a 12th century Gothic piece of furniture, the term ‘Gothic’ originally attributable to the Goths. The two ends were connected by a stretcher and the whole thing was wedged together. Eventually the end supports were replaced with four turned legs.
The original Gothic antique chair in Britain was very grand and more like a throne. In the great hall, where everything in those days was communal, there would be no more than three chairs; one for the lord, his lady and perhaps a spare for any high ranking visitor. These three would be seated at the top trestle table which would be dismantled when the feasting had finished.
Early Gothic is really a misnomer where the Goths were marauding Europe in the 6th, not the 12th century. However the name and the style persisted and is what we associate today with early English oak furniture and grand cathedrals, like Lincoln and York. York is certainly one-upmanship gone mad and remains as one of the largest and most impressive Gothic cathedrals in Europe.
Early Gothic antique furniture is rare, but revival Victorian Gothic antique cabinets can be found in Lancashire and Cumbria via good local antiques dealers.
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