1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Settle (bench)

SETTLE, a wooden bench, usually with arms and a high back, long enough to accommodate three or four sitters. It is most commonly movable, but occasionally fixed as in the “boxes” of those old coffee-houses of which a few examples, still remain in London, and perhaps elsewhere. It shares with the chest and the chair the distinction of great antiquity. Its high back was a protection from the draughts of medieval buildings—a protection which was sometimes increased by the addition of winged ends or a wooden canopy. It was most frequently placed near the fire in the common sitting-room. Constructed of oak, or other hard wood, it was extremely heavy, solid and durable. Few English examples of earlier date than the middle of the 16th century have come down to us; survivals from the Jacobean period are more numerous. Settles of the more expensive type were often elaborately carved or incised; others were divided into plain panels. A well-preserved specimen, with its richly polished oak, darkened by time and beeswax, is a handsome piece of furniture often still to be found in its original environment—the farm-house kitchen or the manorial hall. Its vogue did not long outlast the first half of the 18th century, to which period most of the existing specimens belong.