The fact that this rare table is constructed from yew is most unusual. This native timber is very durable with a fine colour and patination and is highly prized amongst early cabinet makers. Yew comes from the soft conifer group of trees and obtaining wide clean planks from the trunk is difficult as this part of the tree is formed by the binding together of shoots. This fibrous nature makes it suitable for shaping and bending and the wood was the ideal choice for the medieval archer’s long bow. It becomes more prevalent after the Reformation as a veneer or in constructional framing as seen in many Windsor chair frames. Sourcing adequate timber would have been difficult and working it hard, factors which would have ensured that the table would have been a highly prized piece of furniture.
For comparison see a yew table dating from the same period which is currently on loan to Kensington Palace, London, from the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (accession number W.49-1940).