A refectory table is a high, low table generally used for eating in monasteries in Medieval times. In the Late Middle Ages, usually the table was a large feasting or banqueting table at castles and other wealthy residences. The main function of the refectory table was to provide a place where a meal could be spread and broken bread could be offered as a special offering. The table had also been used for displaying important articles from the armor and weapons of the knight’s warband. They were sometimes decorated with the coats of arms of the knights of that period.
The refectory table could be made of different types of hardwood, from oak to walnut. Its legs were constructed from metal, iron or padded material to protect it against the wear and tear of use. Sometimes the legs were covered with leather. Decorating of the refectory table involved carving ornate designs into its top and sides, especially if the table was large. If there were no drawers in the dining room table, the upper edges of the legs could be carved into ornate designs for storage purposes. Glasses sometimes encased the upper part of the table as well.
A variety of materials, both natural and manmade, were used to make refectory tables. Oak was probably the most common of these woods used. Some tables were built in a single tall design, while others were dual-tiered, with one level for seating and the second level for serving. The type of wood that the top of a refractory table was made to depend on its use. For example, those used for ordinary dining were usually made of oak, while tables used for formal dinners were likely to be constructed from mahogany or cherry.
An antique refectory table, designed like a parlor table, was frequently used for the storage of farm implements, farm equipment, hay, and other farm products. Today, antique furnishings, like those made from oak and mahogany, can still be quite valuable. In fact, there are many antiques sold for thousands of dollars. For an antiques collector, it is not really hard to find the perfect antique or a piece of furniture that is just right for his or her own home. With a little help from an antique furniture restorer, even an antique refectory table can be brought back to life.
As history continues to advance, new materials, new styles, and new furniture options open up possibilities for the refectory tables. Although the designs that can be achieved today are limited, some interesting options are available. One possibility is to try decorating your dining hall with rustic wooden furniture. A simple change in tableware and tablecloths can lend a monastic, archaic appeal to your dining hall.
Decorating your home is not always easy. Sometimes, we have to make do with what we have. Using an antique refectory table to lend a monastic appeal to your dining room may be just the right touch for your home. Your guests will be impressed by the unique look that this table lends to the whole environment. Once they sit down, they will be taken by a spell and your home will become the sanctuary they were meant to be in.