Ahh, benches… We all love benches, don’t we? What would we do without them? Park benches, picnic benches, garden benches, church benches, storage benches. Benches to sit and chat, benches to sit and watch the world go by, benches to sit and eat lunch on a sunny day. So many benches and so little time!
So, what started our love affair with benches?
The key feature of a bench is that it allows multiple people to sit on it at the same time. Such a simple but genius invention allows us to socialise with friends, or with complete strangers and brings people together in parks, churches or gardens. Benches date back to before chairs were first made, so they really are the most archetypal form of seating, and as such have historic meaning both symbolically and in form. During the 18th and 19th century public benches became common in public gardens, and allowed people to rest and socialise in beautiful surroundings. It is from this time that our love affair with benches started to grow, and now it is not uncommon to find benches in peoples’ homes and gardens.
Different types of benches
Traditionally benches were made of wood, or in the Victorian times cast-iron or wrought-iron, but it was not unusual to find benches made of stone during the renaissance period. Benches nowadays can be made from all kinds of material, but the most common types of garden benches are listed below:
Wooden benches add a traditional, rustic look to your garden. Wood is the perfect accompaniment to any outside space, enhancing the natural aesthetics of your garden. One drawback is that wood can become weather-damaged over time, and does require a certain commitment to keep it maintained. On the plus side, no matter how old a wooden bench is, you can always sand and paint, or varnish to get it looking good as new again.
Cast Iron Benches
Cast iron is another traditional material used to make benches and can give you that authentic, Victorian style that no other material can. Sturdy and heavy, it is unlikely to fall apart, but is corrosive so may rust over time.
Cast Aluminium Benches
Whilst not as authentic as cast iron, cast aluminium is a great alternative material for benches. It is a lighter material than cast iron, so is less likely to damage your lawn. It is also weather resistant so it won’t rust as easily as cast iron, requires less maintenance and will last longer.
Stainless Steel Benches
Steel is another alternative material that can be used to make benches. As with cast aluminium stainless steel is resistant to rust and mould, and will not discolour. Its shiny, contemporary appearance stands it apart from cast iron and cast aluminium, and is perfect for that authentic industrial look that can only be achieved from using stainless steel. Not everyone’s cup of tea perhaps, but if you seek ultra-modern with a top shine, it could be perfect.
Weave or Rattan Benches
If the traditional style bench is not what you’re after, then a rattan bench could be just what the doctor ordered. Rattan combines natural and traditional with a contemporary feel, to give you a unique style that cannot be achieved from any other material. The woven material provides both comfort and style and could add great value to traditional or contemporary gardens alike.
So, there you have it! Benches have a long and illustrious history within all our cultures and examples can be found in both modern day and ancient times. One things clear, we have always loved to have a good sit down on a bench, whether it’s made of wood, cast iron, or stone. Benches are here to stay. Long live the garden bench in all its magnificent forms!