Early English antique dining tables were very basic affairs. Usually trestle in construction, they could be erected when needed then folded away when not in use. The gateleg table emerged into general use also as a folding table. They were used primarily where dining in smaller rather than larger groups was fashionable and 10 or so people would sit around two or three of these tables. They remained popular until the middle of the 18th century where the fashion again was for all the guests to be seated at one large fixed table rather than two or three folding tables.
Early examples of the gateleg had one folding leaf. This ultimately developed to two leaves, six legs and two gates which opened outwards to support the leaves. The frame of the table was the same as the oblong trestle table joined by stretchers, which were tenoned and pegged together. The gatelegs were hinged to the underframe in wood or metal for easy movement outwards to support the leaves that were hinged to the table top. Although early examples of the table are extremely plain and have a highly functionalised and contrived look where the workings of the table are in easy view, joiners and turners grabbed opportunities to produce elaborately barley-twisted and carved legs which became its main feature. Drawers were added during the early Georgian period. Although the tops of these tables generally were kept plain as they were made of solid wood and not veneered, it is the patina acquired over time of these early examples that is highly prized today.
Period and revival examples of gateleg antique tables can be found through from antiques dealers found in Lancashire.
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