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 In Arts & Mysteries

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In good company. I worked alongside some timber-framers to cut and raise a new workshop frame recently. No doubt joiners and carpenters in London worked together at times, but disputes and controversy result in better documentation than cooperation.

Early modern records show guild regulations in London.

Early 17th-century London tradesmen were protective about their work, carefully keeping an eye on any interlopers to their craft. A dispute arose in the early 1630s between London’s carpenters and joiners, and in my last column (June 2016, issue #225), I outlined the works the city aldermen assigned to the joiners in an attempt to settle this dispute. What of the carpenters? They did not take the aldermen’s decision lying down, that’s for certain.

The aldermen’s decision essentially skips right over carpenters’ principal work, assuming perhaps that it’s a given they frame the buildings. Instead they went on to focus on furniture and smaller works. To begin, carpenters get:

“All Drapers Tables, all Tables for Tavernes Victuallers Chandlers Compting house Tables and all other Tables made of Deale Elme Oake Beeche or other woode nayled together without Glue except all sorts of Tables either nayled framed or glued being moveable.”

“Being moveable” is the key here – the joiners make moveables, what we would call furniture today.


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