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Round Dining Tables: Does King Arthur’s Round Table Exist?

Round Dining Tables: Does King Arthur’s Round Table Exist?

As a bunch of interior design enthusiasts with a passion for high-end furniture, we occasionally veer slightly off-topic to engage in a heated debate about something that piques our interest.

And when a few of us were on a well-deserved tea break discussing round dining tables, the question, “Does King Arthur’s round table exist?” popped up. So we felt compelled to embark on a quest of our own and do a bit of foraging. After all, who doesn't love a round table?

Who was King Arthur?

For years, academics have been captivated by the legend of King Arthur and many historians believe that his story, created to bolster the medieval monarchy, is based on real characters who resided in England in the late 5th and early 6th centuries BC.

Thought to be born in Cornwall, he was the first son of King Uther Pendragon and therefore heir to the throne. However, these were troubled times and Arthur was whisked away by the cunning magician, Merlin, and raised in secret.

The death of King Uther brought great contention over who would reign next, so Merlin embedded a sword, Excalibur, into a stone and it was declared that whoever should pull it out would be the next monarch. Many tried, but none were successful until Arthur finally laid claim to it, seemingly quite by accident, and flailed his way to fame.

Interestingly, archaeologists now believe Arthur’s Stone to be the Neolithic monument that inspired the ‘stone table’ in the film The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Needless to say, Arthur went on to battle the Saxons with his fellowship of trusty Knights and eventually brought peace to England.

There are many versions of Arthurian legend, often reflecting a dark side, and his story has been adapted for stage, TV and film over centuries. Still widely celebrated, England honours Arthur’s Day on the 25th of March and commemorates him during the National Eisteddfod.

What was the Round Table?

It was said that Arthur and his Knights resided in Camelot, a stronghold from whence they carried out famed acts of chivalry and continued their quest for the Holy Grail. This was supposedly the very same chalice used at the Last Supper and was believed to cure all evil and grant whoever drank from it immortality.

But getting back to Camelot’s great design feature, Arthur commissioned a legendary Round Table, around which he and his knights sat to discuss quests, the state of the Kingdom and, no doubt, enticing damsels. Amongst these, Lady Guinevere (Arthur’s naughty wife), was probably their primary interest.

The sentiment of the aforementioned table was to provide a platform from which each knight could have his say with equal status to the king. This was as opposed to a traditional, rectangular table where members of the court would have had to arrange themselves in order of rank from head to tail.

You see, of course, the significance here? Round tables, invented by King Arthur, still have the same benefits thousands of years later. They are convivial, save space (because 12-plus knights all sporting their armour and bearing shields and swords is a lot), and are the perfect solution if you want to hold discussions over dinner (or mead) where all the guests can partake in a unanimous conversation.

Round Dining Tables: Does King Arthur’s Round Table Exist?
Round Dining Tables: Does King Arthur’s Round Table Exist?

 

Why did the Round Table fall?

This bit is rather complicated and deliciously scandalous if you enjoy that kind of thing.

In essence, the famed Sir Lancelot had a rather fiery affair with lovely Guinevere, which eventually led to her being condemned to death. This decision played a major role in splitting Arthur’s table (figuratively speaking, because any high-quality table doesn’t just break), and civil war ensued.

While Arthur and his loyal servant, Sir Gawain, dashed off to capture Lancelot, his bastard son, Mordred, who had been plotting revenge against his father for decades, swooped in and seized the throne.

In the end, though, both Arthur and Mordred were mortally wounded, and the legendary king was floated down the river to Avalon where three mystical maidens attended to his wounds.

He is said to be buried under a hill with his full entourage of knights, ready to save England again, whenever his valour is next needed. Judging by the current state of the world, we might need to give him a toot sometime soon!

With so many twists and turns, it’s a riveting tale and one that we suggest you read up on if you have both the time and the inclination.

Did the Round Table actually exist?

While there is no conclusive evidence that the Round Table was more than symbolic, there does exist a magnificent, and indeed round, tabletop which hangs in Winchester Castle.

It measures 5,5 metres in diameter (we don’t stock those) and is thought to have been constructed for a Round Table tournament during the reign of King Edward 1, using oak timbers that were collected over some years.

King Henry V111 then had it painted in the 1500s with the Tudor Rose at its centre and the names of 24 of the legendary knights who were thought to reside at the original Round Table.

Shop all manner of round tables at FCI London

Yes, we’re a fun bunch, but we do take our work extremely seriously and are delighted to offer you both our esteemed interior design services, a selection of truly royal round tables and a range of beautiful furnishings fit for a king.

Contact us for more details or pop into our stunning showroom (or Camelot, if you will) for a glass of bubbly and a chat - who knows, you might find a round table of your own!

You can also take a peek at our latest projects for some added inspiration!

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