Bog oak is sourced from ancient trees which have been buried and preserved in Irish peat blogs for thousands of years. The oak is stained an ebony colour caused by the reaction of tannins in the wood and iron in the water, which slows down the normal process of decay. Bog oak was widely used in 19th century Ireland where it was prized for its dark colour, hardness and ability to achieve a high polish. Ornaments and decorative objects were often carved from Irish bog wood in the Neo-Celtic, or Celtic Revival style, reflecting the growing fascination with Ireland’s ancient, cultural and artistic past. This tea chest is carved with figures and buildings specific to Irish history, including a scene of St Patrick banishing snakes, a Celtic high cross, and Cloigthithe, round stone towers that were built across Ireland during the Medieval period. These scenes are bordered by scrolling foliage and ivy vines. It is possible that this chest would have been owned by someone who held a high position in the religious sector, such as a priest or bishop, while the extravagance of the chest demonstrates that tea was considered to be a luxury commodity amongst Ireland’s upper class in the early 19th century.