Object of the Month
Dating from between 1530 and 1630, this type of chest is often referred to as a Nonsuch Chest. Nonsuch Chests are relatively common and can be found in other historic houses and churches. The decoration of the chest is veneered with thin slices of wood stuck to the surface. By using different types of wood, in this case holly and oak, as well as different shapes and colours, a marquetry design is made. On this chest the design features two symmetrical applied arches, with tall domed towers inside.
It has been thought that Nonsuch Chests get their name from Henry VIII's famous Palace of Nonsuch - so grand it was said there was to be 'none such' like it. However the palace did not survive. More likely these chests were given the name by antique dealers in the 19th century to increase their value and the name has stuck. Chests like these were made in large numbers in the 16th century, and imported from Germany. Immigrant German workers who settled in London and Norwich also made such pieces of furniture, and it is likely that this is the origin of the Selly Manor chest.