Antique English Oak Meal Ark Coffer Clamp Chest (Circa 16th Century)


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Object Description

Here is a rare and primitive quality antique English primitive oak meal hutch or ark (clamp chest), circa 16th century, in excellent original condition.

• Item: Ark / Clamp Chest
• Provenance North England, UK
• Period: Tudor – Elizabethan
• Circa: 1500 – 1600
• Wood: Solid riven oak
• Used for storing food
• Primitive 2-plank front design
• Nailed plank construction
• Arched / dome lid
• Original wrought iron hasp & striking plate
• Original working (restored) lock + key
• Original wooden peg hinges
• Original top, sides, back & bottom
• Original length styles (feet)
• Lovely rich oak colour and patination
• Extremely rare and unusual
• Free delivery to England, Wales & southern Scotland*
• Free 14-day UK returns policy

Here is a rare antique English primitive oak meal hutch or ark (clamp chest), circa 16th century, in excellent original condition, with sought after proportions displaying a lovely oxblood colour. We believe this chest was constructed around 1500 – 1600, somewhere between the Tudor and Elizabethan period, making it an early example of the first pieces of furniture constructed and used for multiple purposes. These types of chest represent an archaic survival of the medieval clamped-front chest, in which a wide horizontal board is clamped between two vertical stiles, often seen in 15th century furniture.

Such chests were often used in the home, specifically the kitchen or living area, to store corn, meal and bread. They were sometimes also used to store clothes and weapons. The lid was designed to be removed and turned upside down, to be used a kneading trough, hence the peg lid hinges. The chest is primitively constructed from top quality riven oak with butt joints to the corners, held together by handmade wrought iron nails. The lid is constructed with 4 overlapping rough-hewn planks and clamped either side. The four-piece hinged top retains the original wooden peg hinges (which again, is rare to see); they are also in good condition. The chest also features the original wrought iron hasp and decorative striking plate, incorporating the original working lock (restored), with key.

The interior is clean, dry and the chest is practical and usable. The back of the chest features the original rough-hewn boards, along with the original floorboards. The front of the chest boasts primitive etched overlapping ring motif carvings. The chest stands on its original length styles (feet), which is rare to see – they have not been reduced in height

This is an important, early oak ark chest having been around in the days of Henry VIII and later monarchs. This style of primitive chest was constructed all over England from the 16th to 17th century, shows the development of storage furniture to vernacular furniture. It also pre-dates the more refined coffers and chests furniture seen in the marketplace today. The term “ark” apparently gave rise to the surname “Arkwright” (referring to someone who built arks), which was a common name in the north of England. The term “hutch” appears mostly in Southern England.

The chest boasts a rich dark oxblood colour. It has a fantastic colour and patination; this can only be achieved through age and years of care and cleaning it has received.

This item would look great in a variety of rooms from the hallway, to the living room or bedroom, not only as an ornamental piece but also a useful storage chest.

Height = 85cm or 33½” or 2ft 9½”
Width (lid) = 113.8cm or 44¾” or 3ft 8¾”
Width (body) = 110cm or 43⅜” or 3ft 7⅜”
Depth (lid) = 68cm or 26¾” or 2ft 2¾”
Depth (body) = 61cm or 24” or 2ft

Free UK Delivery*:
We offer free delivery to mainland England, Wales, and Southern Scotland (anywhere south of Stirling). *We do not offer free delivery to locations north of Stirling in Scotland, Northern Ireland, or any British Islands off the mainland; for example, the Isle of Man, Isle of White and Channel Islands. If you live in one of the areas where we do not offer free delivery, please contact us for a delivery quote before purchasing the item. Delivery will be made by our specialised antique furniture delivery service, or in some cases we will use a courier service for distant deliveries.

Delivery times are usually 1-4 weeks depending on location; we aim to deliver the majority of items within 2 weeks. All items are professionally packaged and fully insured in transit, therefore, we can assure you, your items will be securely protected in transit and arrive safely with you.

Once you have purchased an item, we will contact you by email and/or telephone and provide you with a provisional delivery date, in order for you to confirm if it is suitable for you. Once you have confirmed you can accept delivery on the provisional delivery date, we will book the delivery in with our shippers and it then becomes a confirmed delivery date.

We will also provide you with our shippers’ contact details, in case you need to contact the driver on the day of delivery. It’s helpful if you can provide us with both the landline and mobile telephone number, in case the driver cannot reach you on one of the numbers on the day of delivery, they can contact you on your alternative number.

In order to be able to offer you free delivery, it is based on a 1-man delivery only. For any large items that require 2 people to lift the item, we ask that you are available at the time of delivery to be able to give our shipper a lift off the van and into your house with the item. If you are not able to lift items yourself, we ask that you have someone on hand at the time of delivery to assist our shipper with lifting the item.

Free 14 Days UK Returns & Refunds:
A free 14-day “no quibble” returns policy (from the date you receive the item) is available if you are not happy with this item. We will collect the item free of charge from you (we do not charge a return fee / collection fee). You will be given a full refund as long as the item is returned in the same condition. We will collect returns using our own specialist furniture delivery company. We will not accept returns via a courier service (due to experience of damaged items in transit). This refund policy only applies to deliveries to the UK.

UK Buyer Payment:
For UK buyers, we accept cash on collection or delivery; cheque, credit card, BACS (free bank to bank transfer) or PayPal. Payment is requested within 5 days of the sale. Payment must be cleared before the items are collected or delivered.

International Buyers:
If you live outside the UK and you would like to purchase this item, please contact us before purchasing it, so that we can obtain an accurate shipping quote and delivery lead-time. The shipping quote provided is a global estimate only. The actual shipping cost will vary by country and postcode. Due to the distances and costs involved with shipping outside the UK, a returns policy is therefore not available for international buyers. Before placing your order(s) please make sure this is the item for you. We request payment by bank transfer (we do not accept payment via PayPal, credit or debit cards for international purchases). Payment is requested within 10 days of the purchase. Payment must be cleared before the items are collected or delivered to our shippers. The advertised price of the item does not include the shipping cost, sales tax, import duty or custom fees.

Important information regarding PayPal payment:
We only accept payment from fully verified PayPal account holders with confirmed addresses only. Items will only be sent to the confirmed address registered in PayPal. If you purchase an item and your address is not confirmed, your payment will be refunded and the purchase cancelled. It only takes a few moments to verify and confirm your PayPal details.

About the Seller:
This item is being sold by Yola Gray Antiques who is an accredited member of LAPADA (the UK’s largest Trade Association of Professional Art and Antique Dealers) and CINOA. CINOA is the world association of Art & Antique dealer associations. All LAPADA & CINOA members abide by their strict code of practice by adhering to reputable standards of quality, expertise and integrity.

Yola Gray has dealt in fine art and antique furniture for over 40 years. Yola Gray has a special interest in Colonial furniture, specifically Colonial Four Poster Beds. Yola Gray also provides a variety of fine English Antique Furniture, Art and Fabrics to clients in the UK, Europe and further afield.

Please visit the Yola Gray website at for further items and information.

Ref. Coffer 25

Object Condition

The chest is in good original condition. It features the original iron striking plate, hasp, peg hinges, original floor, top, sides and back. The chest also stands on the original stiles (feet), which is rare to see. The lock is now in working condition, having been restored and cleaned. The lock comes with a working key. There are nominal old marks to the top, leading edges, sides and front of the lid (see photos) but nothing significant considering the age of the item. The interior is clean, dry, and usable. The chest is well constructed, solid in joint and ready to use. Considering the age of this primitive chest, it has stood the test of time and is testimony to the quality of the materials and construction methods used to last this long.

Object Details

Dealer Opening Times

We are open weekly as follows:

8:00 - 17:00
8:00 - 17:00
8:00 - 17:00
8:00 - 17:00
8:00 - 17:00

Dealer Contact

+44 (0)1829 458 070
+44 (0)7960 738 212

Dealer Location

Unit 4
Organsdale Farm
United Kingdom

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