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Brief description

Three-tiered stand or 'whatnot', made from walnut with hexagonal shelves supported on spiral turned columns and terminating in scrolled feet, probably manufactured in England between c.1880 and 1900.

Object name


Object number


Production date

c.1880- c.1900 (manufactured)

Production place

England (manufactured)


Victorian (1837-1901)





Physical description

Three tiered stand or whatnot, in walnut with hexagonal shelves supported on spiral turned columns and terminating in scrolled, strapwork-inspired feet.


Height: 89cm
Width: 41cm
Depth: 35cm

Website keywords


Object history note

This object was purchased for the Geffrye Museum 'Heart of Oak' exhibition. On acquisition this whatnot or plant stand was thought to be in the style of the furniture designer Richard Bridgens (1785-1846). Bridgens published Furniture with Candelabra and Interior Decoration in 1838. However the reason for this attribution is unclear.

On acquisition it was thought to date from c.1840 however Adam Bowett, independent furniture historian who examined the object on 02/03/2009 suggested a later date of c.1880 to 1900.


Adam Bowett, independent furniture historian examined this object on 2nd March 2009.

He described the object as a walnut plant-stand or ‘what not’ with three graduated hexagonal tiers dating from c.1880 to 1900. The tiers have moulded edges and a shaped frieze raised on twist turned blocks and knoped supports on profile cut scrolled feet.

He commented that this whatnot incorporates several elements characteristic of Carolean revival style, such as the hexagonal shape of the shelves, the twist-turned supports and the scroll feet. However Adam Bowett suggested that this object lacks the florid detail and execution of early revival pieces, and its perfunctory detailing and simplified construction using metalwork rather than joints suggest that it is a late piece of Carolean revival style furniture. He noted that in both style and construction it has much in common with Queen Anne revival furniture made from the 1880s onwards.

He analysed the construction of the top in detail stating that it is made of a single board of walnut with solid walnut mouldings which are glued and mitred at the angles. The shaped frieze is nailed and glued to the underside. The three legs are screwed to the top with iron L-brackets each of which are secured by two screws. The legs are turned from a single piece of walnut and the scrolled feet are applied, possibly glued, to the bases. The middle and bottom tiers are notched onto the uprights and glued or screwed into place. The knops to the base of the supports are thicknessed to add diameter. There are lathe marks to the bases of the columns.

He also commented on the condition of this object. He described that the whole stand or what not is covered with a coloured varnish to disguise the poor colour and figure of the timber. The hollows and crevaces of the turnings and mouldings are darker in colour which may be deliberate patination. The top is faded and marked by plant pot or vase. The moulding has been detatched in places and re-glued. There is some light distressing to the middle and lower tiers as well as some discolouration around the supports and in the mouldings. There is some slight wear and bruising to the feet.

In conclusion he stated that this whatnot is a poor quality piece which was probably made later than the target date for the display in room 6.

A full transcript of notes from this examination is available on the object history file and as a digital asset.


Label text, Geffrye Museum, date unknown:
Tiered-stand or whatnot, walnut, with spiral-turned legs. In the manner of Richard Bridgens, c1840.
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