|Settle with tilting back that turned into a table *|
What Do You Call It?
First there was the settle. Yep, bad name. It was a wood bench basically with a back panel and side panels or arms. Think of it as a church bench with a higher back. The reason it's a big deal is that it was pretty big and heavy so it was not easy to move, which "was evidence of the increasingly stable household that accompanied the rise of the middle class in the late Middle Ages."** There were versions of the settle that included the back tilting to create a table top and some that had storage under the seat.
After the settle came the settee in the 17th century, which is like an armchair that got stretched out. A settee was usually upholstered and provided seating for two or more people. It's changed a lot over the years but the same idea applies.
By the mid-18th century there was the sofa. It was a more casual solution to seating than the more formal settee, with an upholstered seat, back and arms and allowing for two or more people to sit. After 1830, when coil-spring deep buttoned upholstery was invented the sofa became even more popular.