William Burges RA (London 1827 – Kensington 1881)
Walnut, brass and steel mechanism
70 x 153.5 x 132 cmOrder this image
Knightshayes Court, Devon
Although this table currently houses a parlour palm, it was originally designed to hold a grapevine. Two of our room guides voted this their favourite object Derek: 'A wonderful piece of sophisticated fun.' Peter E: Dreaming of being 'able to grow a vine and enjoy a few grapes.'
A walnut extending centre or dining table, English, circa 1870. Designed originally for Cardiff Castle by William Burges. The oval top with four extra leaves available and a channel-moulded frieze with dot inlay, raised on a central support of four turned columns with octagonal collars standing on a platform base with a pair of scroll-carved feet to each side, the platform with central adjustable socle on which a plant stands and protrudes through the hole in the table-top.
William Burges famously restored and redecorated Cardiff Castle over many years for the wealthy Marquess of Bute. An identical table is in the Dining Room in the Bute Tower (see Cooper 'Victorian and Edwardian Furniture and Interiors' 1987, plate 128). Apparently the socle beneath the table top is for a fruiting plant such as a grape-vine, which grows up through the hole in the table and then allows guests to pick their own fruit.
Purchased by the National Trust at auction in 1980 with the help of a V&A Grant.
Makers and roles
William Burges RA (London 1827 – Kensington 1881), designer