Author Archives: Thomas Pennington

Ruby Joust and Other Divers News

On Saturday the 24th of May, members of Gardner’s Company turned out at the SCA’s Ruby Joust to fence, frolic, share stuff we’ve made, and lure unsuspecting volunteers into the manly art of pike drill.

Zeke explains what's what.

Zeke explains what’s what.

Files fall in for instruction.

Files fall in for instruction.

Did he say "port" or "shoulder"?

Did he say “port” or “shoulder”?

Ah, right, that's better!

Ah, right, that’s better!

Marching off to the privies.

Marching off to the privies.

Ah, nothing like a pleasant afternoon marching about!

Ah, nothing like a pleasant afternoon marching about!

Saluting the assembled

Saluting the assembled mob…eh…populace.

Perhaps the most important pike maneuver: Assume a Lazy Posture.

Perhaps the most important pike maneuver: Assume a Lazy Posture.

A few weeks back, some our members attended Jamestown Day as costumed interpreters. Jane Gravesend was kind enough to grab a few pics of the Governor’s chair in its new home.
For those of you who do Facebook, Ester Pickering has completed an amazing embroidered sweet bag, which was also on display at Ruby Joust.

The Governor’s New Chair by Thomas Pennington

As those of you who follow the Gardiner’s blog know, we’ve been involved in providing two sets of clothing for the new Row House at the Jamestown Settlement museum.  Additionally, I’ve been working on a project to help furnish the new building, a turned chair for the Governor’s bedchamber.

There are already some nice examples of the joiner’s craft in the row house, such as this frame and panel chair with linenfold panels.


Or this joined chair with an upholstered back and seat.


Both of these examples use mortise and tenon joints, a method of construction restricted among the London trade companies to joiners.  Other furniture making trades, such as carpenters and turners, were in theory forbidden from their use.  For carpenters, basic nailed board construction was typical, such as these classic six-board chests.


Turner’s were left to round mortises and tenons, essentially a round peg in a round hole.  Since the turner’s trade is not represented in the Fort’s furniture, I volunteered to build a chair that would be appropriate for the new Governor’s bedchamber.  Turned chairs were reaching their height of popularity in the late 16th and early 17th century, from simple three-post triangle stools to elaborate great chairs with masses of turned spindles, knobs, and rings.

The model we settled on for the new chair was an Anglo-Welsh piece, circa 1600.  Appropriate for a high-status owner, this chair uses a relatively new style of construction where the back is slightly reclined, rather than the traditional medieval style of a straight, vertical back.  Such a chair would have been turned on a pole lathe, a foot-powered lathe that uses a back-and-forth, reciprocal motion to spin the workpiece.  More about early modern lathes can be found here.

The Jamestown Settlement curator requested that the chair be made of white oak, as opposed to the original ash.  In addition, I took a few liberties with the design to make it more durable for its role in an open-air museum.  The original had wide, flat captured rings on the back rail, and sharp profiles on some of the back spindles that I thought would not hold up under rough use.  Most of the differences are subtle, and the captured rings have been replaced with more conventional solid ones.

Here is the chair thus far,


And a close-up of the back,


I still have a few rails to turn, and of course the seat panels to mortise in, but otherwise it is getting close to completion.  With luck, it will go to the fort for the weekend of Military Through the Ages.

Jamestown Volunteer Training Weekend by Thomas Pennington

Some of Gardiner’s Company escaped the ice and snow over Presidents Day weekend and headed to Jamestown Settlement for volunteer training. Gardiner’s was well represented, with several folks down for the first time. After an exciting round of paperwork and fire extinguisher training (hey, the fort did burn several times), we proceeded with interpretive techniques, black powder safety, Elizabethan edged weapons, and domestic activities. Vince did a great presentation on the processing of iron ore into wrought iron using a period style bloomery, as well as other processes and types of iron and steel.  Not to mention fresh Duck Donuts!

Sunday, Mary Bull presented a class on the other colonial and trade ventures that we’re going on in the New World, giving some additional context to what the English we’re doing at Jamestown. Then some folks got additional black powder training while others checked out more progress with the Governor’s House and renovations to the fort office. The day wrapped up with a Volunteers Retreat, where the Governor’s new clothes were displayed and a call was put out for help staffing the new house so we can display more high-status artifacts without them going walkabout or getting damaged.

The next Jamestown event will be Military Through the Ages the weekend of March 15th, where Gardiner’s members will volunteer in the fort to provide military and domestic demonstrations, as well as judges for the various competitions.