Two Joynt-Stools and a Miasma

Samuel Pepys’ woke on the 6th of July, 1661 to the news his uncle Robert had died at Brampton the previous night. Samuel rode to Brampton where, according to his diary entry…

“My uncle’s corps in a coffin standing upon joynt-stools in the chimney in the hall; but it begun to smell, and so I caused it to be set forth in the yard all night, and watched by two men.”

Chas_II_oak_joyned_stool_c1660_01aCharles II oak joyned stool, circa 1660.

Joyned stools have often – erroneously – been labelled ‘coffin stools’ (particularly those approaching, or exceeding 24″ in height). Although I have seen a not-overly-tall pair of joyned stools in a church for the convenience of supporting a coffin, the reality is; they were simple seats of the period.

 Jack Plane

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About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
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4 Responses to Two Joynt-Stools and a Miasma

  1. Robert says:

    Why are they called “joyned” stools?

    • Jack Plane says:

      Literally, the stools are ‘joyned’ with mortises, tenons and pegs (as opposed to the sixteenth-century form of butt-jointed-and-nailed boarded construction).

      JP

  2. D.B. Laney says:

    My understanding is that joynt stools were always built at knee height. Children could be pull’t up to the table. A man-at-arms could sit, unencumbered, as he bore his weaponry whilst he took his soup. The stools could be used as horses to be sawn upon and, lastly, the body of a departed family member could be supported so’st he could hear the keening of his loved ones, so bereaved. Wonderful piece of furniture, altogether. Reminds me of the story of the wake of my Grandfather’s cousin, Andrew…Ah, but sure that’s a another story.

    • Jack Plane says:

      Now you’re approaching the realm of the wake table – the English call them ‘hunt’ tables (the English are hopeless at broaching death and God forbid if an uncovered corpse were laid out on a table!).

      My aged parents have an oak wake table and Virginia and I have an elm one. When not dragged out to celebrate the lives of deceased loved ones, wake tables make excellent dining tables.

      JP

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