The History and Evolution of Monks Chairs


There is nothing more classic when it comes to home furniture than an antique monks bench.


These stunning vintage wooden items are a traditional combination of seating and storage, characterised by their dual functionality and historical design. A vintage monks bench is certainly the way to go if you want to make a statement in your home.


Originating from medieval Europe, monks benches were used in monasteries as a practical solution for seating and storage for monks - hence their name. They could be used to stash away books and personal belongings, keeping these buildings clutter-free and allowing monks to live and worship in a tidy space.


Monk benches are designed with both purposes in mind.

They often have high backrests that are adorned with intricate carvings and decorated panels, and armrests for additional comfort when being used as vintage seating.


The seat itself doubles as a hinged lid that can be lifted to reveal a storage box providing a safe and secure space for anything you want to keep tucked away.


Though the popularity of monks benches dipped during the 18th and 19th Century, due to the need for more specialised and comfortable seating options, they saw a resurgence as we moved into the 20th Century.


Monks benches are now a popular decorative furniture item in households that can be elevated with the addition of seat cushions and throws.


Are There Different Styles Of Monk Chairs?


There are various styles of monks benches that have evolved over time, influenced by different periods, regions, and design trends.


The more traditional styles include the medieval monastic benches, which are more simple and minimal, and gothic style benches which incorporate architectural elements such as pointed arches and tracery.


As we head into the contemporary styles, like rustic farmhouse and shaker style, natural wood finishes and simple, clean lines are embraced.


There are even regional variations. For example, English Tudor and Elizabethan where the monks benches are typically made from solid oak with detailed carvings, or French Provincial which is more rustic and often made from lighter woods, such as pine, as well as being less decorated to reflect the countryside aesthetic. 


Tips On How You Can Bring Vintage Monk Benches Into A Contemporary Home


A vintage monks chair can take pride of place in almost any area of the home but they are most commonly found in living rooms, bedrooms or as vintage hallway furniture.


Thanks to their versatility and range of styles, it is easier than you would think to integrate them into a contemporary home. You can start by simply dressing the monks bench in more modern soft furnishings, such as throw cushions and blankets, which will add comfort and style.

You could also balance the addition of this statement piece by adding other restored furniture to your space alongside modern items or refinishing the wood in a sleek, neutral tone.


At Restored Furniture, we stock an array of beautiful antique monks benches ranging from traditional restored oak to high-backed settle benches. Explore our collection of beautiful pre-loved furniture and make a bold and stylish statement in your living space.




Check out our range of restored furniture for sale

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