Updated: Apr 26, 2020
To look at, you might think that this is just a rather beautiful example of a Windsor chair. You would be right on one count, that it is indeed a fine example of a Windsor chair, but have you looked closely at it? It can tell you much more.....
Let's take a look at it. This chair probably started life in the late 1700's, built either by a talented individual or more likely a craftsman specialising in the creation of wooden furniture. It's a classic Windsor design, with a high bentwood back enclosing upright struts. It's an armchair with arm-rests, and would probably be situated in a country kitchen maybe next to a fire or a range.
The wear on the arm-rests and the seat tells us that this chair was well used, well loved, and probably passed down through several generations. If we look down towards the bottom of the chair, you could be forgiven for thinking it was a rocking chair. It isn't. The runners to the base look like they have been added much later by re-using parts of some church furniture, possibly a pew or an altar rail. The decorations give this away as they still contain the ecclesiastical decorations often found within a chapel.
As I mentioned before, the chair was probably situated in a kitchen, which probably had a stone floor. The floor would have been mopped daily for decades, which, in turn would have rotted the chair legs. In the days of mending and repairing, the chair would not simply have been replaced, but would have had the rotten, dampened feet of the chair removed and then the whole thing re-set into the ecclesiastical runners.
If we look a little higher up, we can see that both in the arms and in the high back, there have been further repairs, this time by the insertion of 4 iron rods running vertically. As the spindles lost some their strength and the chair some of its structural integrity, it wasn't just 'replaced' with a new one - as it's already a great piece of craftsmanship, it was strengthened with an even stronger material, possibly by the local blacksmith. It's bolted underneath the seat and once again, incredibly strong.
Another little quirk to it can be observed by looking at the seat itself. The grain of the wood is beautiful, and stands out due to the wear of countless bottoms sitting on it - but - it also runs the wrong way! Usually in a chair such as this, the grain would run from back to front, but in this case it runs side to side creating just an extra bit of beauty.
So this is not just a chair. It has a story to tell those who would listen. A story that started sometime around 1780, has seen many changes, wars, kings and queens, famine, love and family. We found it at a country auction in Northumberland. It's ready for the next chapter in its life and to observe more history, love and family. It's difficult to sell a chair as beautiful as this one - the next chapter might well be in our house.