The Jubilee Oak Table, is a stunning 13m long table created from a 5,000-year-old sub fossilised black oak tree discovered in the fens. It was a project 10 years in the making that saw a team of furniture makers, led by project leader Hamish Low, lead designer Mauro Dell’Orco and craftsman Steve Cook, collaborate on an inimitable ‘table for the nation’. This unique example of black oak – one of the rarest forms of timber in the world – was first discovered in 2012, the year of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, during routine cultivations on a farm in the Wissington Fens of south-west Norfolk. Following the unique discovery, a team of specialist craftspeople successfully milled and dried 10 breathtakingly beautiful, consecutive planks unlike anything ever seen before. The Jubilee Oak Table was designed to display the jaw dropping length of those planks, to illustrate and evoke the sense of wonder at the scale of the ancient high forests.
This effect was achieved by reducing the visual impact of the under-structure: the table has only two pairs of narrowly shaped pedestals joined by a long and slender curved spine which cantilevers by more than three meters each end. Fourteen ribs are fixed each side of the spine to support the planks. The material is bronze, chosen for its embodied permanence and archaeologists refer to this period in history as transitional between the stone and Bronze Age’s. The bridge construction is both functional, to support the top with the minimum number of parts, and metaphorical, to cross 5000 years of history. To mitigate the liability of size, the two outer planks can be folded down reducing the width of the table to just 900mm. Twelve sets of casters positioned under the pedestals allow it to be moved silently and by just two people.
The design of the top has remained sympathetic to the integrity of the Jubilee Oak. The planks have been retained full length and techniques developed to enable their individual shapes to be highlighted. The project was completed in 2022, the year of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, and unveiled at Ely Cathedral by HRH The Princess Royal on 17 May 2022. It will remain on display at Ely Cathedral until 28th February 2023, the table will then have a year’s residency at Rochester Cathedral, Kent from the 3 March 2023.