British campaign furniture!
During the Georgian and Victorian periods (1714-1901), campaign furniture allowed military officers and gentlemen in the field to enjoy a similar standard of living as at home in Britain. They invested large amounts of money to enjoy a high degree of comfort, and this was enhanced by furniture made to quickly fold or pack down for ease of transport. Specially designed pieces of campaign, or knockdown, furniture included, chests, writing desks, bookcases, games tables, chairs, beds, sofa-beds, washstands, and, in some cases, bidets or toilets.
Travel in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries was slow and rugged, and campaign furniture was designed specifically to be folded and packed into manageable loads that could be quickly and easily stowed in the close quarters of a ship or for being carried by porters and animals on overland trips in foreign lands.
My first introduction to this marvelous style was when I was strolling through The Bombay Company many years ago. During those days, they had a series of coffee tables, secretariats, side tables and various other products made in the British campaign style. I remember being taken with the look almost immediately. The clean lines, the natural wood, the brass fittings… all spoke to me of a time when the practicalities of life in the field did not mean giving up the niceties of life! In fact, the harder the cross-country ordeal, the more of a need to be reminded of England and what exactly one was fighting for out in the wilds. It is precisely when one is put in primitive conditions that one should cling all the more strongly to one’s civilized manner and style of life.
Campaign furniture, for me, evokes a by-gone era when the British Empire was in its ascendency… when Britannia Ruled the Waves and the Raj was in full swing. The romantic image (as opposed to the harsh reality) is what appeals to me.
Sadly, when I was finally in a position to be able to purchase some decent (reproduction) furniture, the Bombay Company no longer carried items in the British Campaign style. Alas.
One day, I will have a little room or area of my apartment or house which I will furnish and set out in the British Campaign motif. It is, to my mind, a very masculine style… perfect for a ‘man cave’ or even a ‘man corner.’
I can hardly wait!