The earliest surviving type of dining table is the trestle table used in the Middle Ages. As the name implies a trestle table consists of a simple plank on two trestles - easy to move around and dismantle so practical for grand halls in castles. By the mid 16th Century it became more common for the master and his family to eat in a separate room and more permanent tables evolved - the term Refectory Table has been applied to these early 'solid' tables since the 19th Century. Styles varied but such tables were popular all over Europe.
The actual term 'refectory' refers to the large dining rooms particularly in monasteries where the monks would gather to eat and drink sitting on benches - around this common style of solid, chunky refectory table. Distinctive features include the solid, hand turned legs connected to the stretcher by dowels. Normally refectory tables are crafted from oak and sometimes the tables will extend. It is common for hand carved details such as interlaced arches to be carved on the apron. Some of the tables have barley twist legs.
Period English oak refectory tables are very sought after and can be expensive - especially with signs of ageing including a patina and other marks of historical use. They are the perfect kitchen dining table as they are very solid and stable, great for withstanding the vigour of daily use. English oak refectory tables look great with benches around, also with Windsor Chairs, Ladderback chairs and spindleback chairs.