What is a cricket table?

Recognisable for its three splayed legs and simple round top, the cricket table is a versatile, functional piece of furniture with many variations and even more uses, says Katherine Wright, auctioneer and antiques specialist at Lyon & Turnbull

What is a cricket table
Elizabeth Whiting / Alamy Stock Photo
Published: February 24th, 2022 at 9:00 am
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A cricket table is an unpretentious, vernacular piece of furniture, often made for people of modest means, who relied on their own skills or those of local wrights to make what they needed.

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Typically, cricket tables are plain and functional rather than fashionable and stylish. The form is a round top over three splayed legs, which are joined to the top with a mortise-and-tenon joint or socketed and wedged in. The cricket table sometimes incorporates an undertier shelf below the top; this form is used for pub tables, where a pint could be placed on the shelf while drinkers played cards. Others have decorative elements such as bobbin turned legs. The cricket table would have been used for dining in modest domestic settings such as a cottage, but it could have had many other practical purposes.

A cricket table sits perfectly in this country dining room, next to an antique dresser and campaign chair
A cricket table sits perfectly in this country dining room, next to an antique dresser and campaign chair Elizabeth Whiting / Alamy Stock Photo

Due to its name, the cricket table is often assumed to be connected to the game of cricket, which has been played in England since the 17th century. There are suggestions that the three legs relate to the three stumps of the wicket, while the splayed design of the legs, which give great stability, led to the perception that the tables were made for use in uneven outdoor settings, such as a cricket field. However, although it is possible that this form of table may have been used at matches, there is no evidence of a direct connection between the table and the game.

In centuries past, ‘cricket’ was the term used in parts of the British Isles for a small stool. No one knows for sure why this name was used. These small stools or crickets could be of rectangular form with a top and four sides, or a simple round top with three legs. They were extremely practical and could be used in numerous ways, such as for milking stools, child’s seating or kettle stands. In areas of the North East of England, the cricket stool became known as a ‘cracket’.

The cricket table evolved from the small round cricket stool. Cricket tables were not known by that name in the 18th and 19th centuries, when they were called drinking tables. In the 20th century, it has been common within the antiques trade to name furniture types, such as a Pembroke table or a Welsh dresser. Cricket is a familiar common term, and so the cricket table has become a well-known piece of furniture.

What is a cricket table
A rare Georgian tavern cricket table in elm, c1800, with a heavily chamfered oval top on three turned legs, £7,500–£10,000, Robert Young Antiques

Interestingly, the term ‘cricket stool’ is recorded in written history such as old household inventories. Whereas the term ‘cricket table’ does not appear to be recorded in historical documents or literature before the 20th century, rather it is a name that has become familiar in more recent times and through the oral tradition.

Cricket tables work in both period and contemporary interiors as, although they have a traditional antique appearance, the simplicity of the design means that they sit well in a modern home. They also have numerous uses, including as a small supper table, a lamp table, or a bedside table. Often very individual, cricket tables are full of character, and made from distinctive woods that have attractive features and figuring.


Anatomy of a cricket table at a glance


What is a cricket table?

A table with a round wooden top and three splayed legs.

When were cricket tables invented?

Some early forms date from the 17th century, but they were more commonly found in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

Who makes cricket tables?

Local wrights or craftsmen rather than well-known ‘named’ makers of fashionable furniture.

What to look out for

There are many variations in style, as these tables were made by individual craftsmen and not on a factory production line. Look out for examples with character, and that show constructional features such as mortise-and-tenon joints; timber with attractive grain or colour, and a good depth of patination built up from many years of use.

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How much do cricket tables cost?

19th and 20th-century examples can be bought for under £200. Earlier examples, particularly those with distinctive regional features, can make several thousand pounds at auction. Price depends on factors such as age, condition, and the overall appealing qualities of the table.

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