The octagonal table has been a firm favourite since the time of the Renaissance. These multifunctional tables were made in England as far back as the 16th century and increases in popularity resulted in many oak varieties being seen in the English home. These early examples were sturdily constructed, often boldly carved, with eight turned or fluted legs and an adjoining stretcher between each leg a few inches off the floor and most, like round tables of the time, measured three feet across. These earlier tables were multifunctional in that they could be used for writing, reading or simply passing time with friends.
Later Queen Anne and Georgian examples were lighter in construction and made of walnut then mahogany rather than oak. The octagonal shape was ideal for the symmetry of Regency design and larger examples made during this period were supported on four outward curving legs ending with claw feet and set on castors for manoeuvrability. Tops were often elaborately decorated with contrasting coloured marbles, with friezes and pedestals heavily embellished with brass neo-classical motifs.
The Victoria era was one of revivals and the octagonal table came back in its many previous forms. One of the most successful of the period was the Gothic Revival where Pugin, Burges and others created highly decorated Gothic, Moorish and oriental influenced pieces. Also hand-crafted examples by Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement were popular during this time. Many period and revival examples of this functional antique table can be found in Lancashire, London and other dealerships and auction houses throughout the country.
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