All Manner of Exotic Woods: the history of furniture in Britain 1600-1800

Ref: C2338445

In 1600 materials and techniques were still local and mostly unsophisticated: oak and mortise and tenon joints. By 1800 virtually all furniture woods were imported and much was available ready-made, held together with the finest dovetails. Reasons for the changes – both social and political – will be examined, together with techniques such as lacquer and japanning, veneering and marquetry, and gilding. Country house interiors will be discussed including the state rooms at Boughton House and Drayton House; furniture at Canons Ashby, and how Kelmarsh hall might have been furnished.

Course aim

To provide a brief introduction to furniture design, construction and the different woods used at different times

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of basic methods of construction eg mortise and tenon or dovetail
  • Be able to describe at least one method of decoration: inlay or veneer; lacquer or japanning; gilding; pietra dura &c
  • Explain some historical issues that influenced change
  • Recognise how rooms were used and furnished and how much this has changed
  • Evaluate the need for care and conservation of older furniture

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • Greater appreciation of your own furniture if you have any older pieces, and of that in museums and country houses, where the same furniture may have been in use for several hundred years. Care and conservation will also form part of the course.

Download full course outline

All Manner of Exotic Woods: the history of furniture in Britain 1600-1800 Course Outline

Enrolment Conditions

You can enrol online if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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