Thursday, October 27, 2011

A 16th Century Boarded Chest

The UK can be an amazing place for furniture and historical items of all kinds. In Conwy, North Wales we went to the Plas Mawr, the restored 16th century home of a welsh merchant family. Two things made the Plas Mawr stand out. First, most of the furnishings in the house are original to the family, second, nothing is roped off and you can go right up to anything in the house. Yes.. really.. you can go right up to anything.

While I have quite a few pictures from Plas Mawr I wanted to give a nod to Adam Cherubini and share this boarded chest. It's quite a piece and is original to the home. 

I would love to tell you what the inscription says but my Welsh is pretty rusty (read: nonexistent). The letters are nicely inscribed and the checked diamonds are inlaid. I also love the lockset. 


Here's a little better view of the construction on the corner of the chest and the lid. You can also see the inlaid diamond better and the straps and nails holding on the bottom.

With all the talk recently about boarded and nailed furnishings I really wanted to share this piece which I thought was a great example of the technique. In next weeks post I'll share a little more of the furniture and construction of the Plas Mawr.


  1. To translate the Welsh you may want to contact Welsh bodger, Don Weber in Paint Lick, KY.

  2. .

    Sad to say, this isn’t Welsh at all.

    Read it again:


    “He that spe(a)k……… e me fair and
    Love me not I will give him fair
    Words and trust him not” “G I” (Probably G J).

    There’s no 'K' in Welsh and it is unlikely that you would find Welsh spoken, not the less written, by a strongly advocative English family in an English enclave in the 16th C.

    The carver would have been illiterate and copied what was written on a slate, hence some of the characters the wrong way around..

    Here you have vernacular English, dialect and all, written as it was heard.

    Sadly someone has later installed a lock after the ‘K’ and chopped out some of the motto.

    G I is probably the owner of the chest and the ‘I’ is probably a ‘J’ .

    All best from Wales

  3. Howard

    Thanks for the insight. I apparently need to pay closer attention. :-) Now that you have pointed it out it seems pretty clear.

    I really enjoyed my visit to Conwy last fall and hope to have the opportunity to spend more time and see more of Wales in the future.

    Any recommendations?

  4. .

    You have already found Wales is an ancient, fascinating place; North to South it’s all good, with the exception of the industrial parts. I live smack bang in the middle, geographically speaking.
    In the meantime, if you enjoyed the furniture at Conwy, try this book:
    Most highly recommended by me. Along with his book on Bardic chairs, it is the best book there is on the subject.

    All best from Wales.
    Why not get in touch?

  5. Would love for you to get in touch. Please find my email under my profile and feel free to contact directly.