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Early Windsor chairs

Published by on 18 January 2022
Windsor chair
Copyright (Attribution/Credit)
J.H.J. Parker Collection

Windsor armchair, c.1725-50, possibly by Joseph Newton of Fenton, Lincolnshire. Part of the J.H.J. Parker Collection

A small group of Regional Furniture Society members in Lincolnshire studied early Windsor chairs and last year Julian Parker recorded two lectures summarising the work. The first covers the anatomy of two types of Windsor chairs, bow backs from Lincolnshire and comb backs from the Thames Valley region. To support their examination they employed a variety of documentary sources which included inventories from the 1720s for ‘Forrest’ and ‘Windsor’ chairs, and pre-1750 engravings and paintings by Jacques Rigaud, Edward Haytley and Georg Lisiewski, of which two are illustrated below: 

Copyright (Attribution/Credit)
Wigan Arts and Heritage

Sir Roger and his wife Dorothy, Lady Bradshaigh, standing in front of Haigh Hall, Wigan, by Edward Haytley, 1746. Museum of Wigan Life (B81.909). © Wigan Arts and Heritage Service, Creative Commons licence

Copyright (Attribution/Credit)
Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg

Das Tabakskollegium (The Tobacco College), Frederick William I, King of Prussia, by Georg Lisiewski, 1737. Potsdam, Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg (AKG Images 3603)

Object study included early 'comb back' Windsor chairs found in Newark, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and north Cambridgeshire, bearing distinctive crest rails and scooped saddle seats made with an adze. Similar chairs were examined from the Wren Library in Lincoln Cathedral and Epworth Old Rectory.

Copyright (Attribution/Credit)
Epworth Old Rectory

John Wesley's 'Preaching Chair'. The metal inscription reads 'A chair used by John Wesley in 1756'. © Epworth Old Rectory

Further chairs from the same school and other early chairs with elaborate splats were also examined.

References to these chairs have been made by:

  • Mark Haworth Booth, 'The Dating of 18th Century Windsor Chairs', in The Antique Dealer and Collectors' Guide, (January, 1973), pp. 63-68.
  • Nancy Goyne Evans, 'Early Windsor Chairs', in Furniture History, vol. 17 (1979), pp. 30-31 and plates 75a, 75b & 77.
  • Christopher Gilbert, English Vernacular Furniture 1750-1900 (1991), pp. 100-101; 117-118.  
  • Thomas Crispin, The English Windsor Chair (1992), pp. 25-28.
  • Nancy Goyne Evans, American Windsor Chairs (1996), pp. 45-48.
  • Michael Harding-Hill, Windsor Chairs (2003), pp. 10-11.
  • William Sergeant, ‘Joseph Newton, Windsor Chair Maker of Fenton, Lincolnshire’ in Regional Furniture, vol. 32 (2018), pp. 93-102.

Click on this link to watch the first lecture: Early types and new discoveries in Lincolnshire 

Side chair
Copyright (Attribution/Credit)
W.R. Sergeant

Windsor side chair, c. 1725-50, possibly by Joseph Newton of Fenton, Lincolnshire © W.R. Sergeant

The second talk discusses vernacular furniture research.

The study included observing restoration of the Newark chairs by Tim Garland. Documentary sources included:

  • Bill Couth, 'Grantham During the Interregnum: The Hallbook of Grantham, 1641-1649', Lincoln Record Society, vol. 83 (1995), p. 76.
  • Registers of St Wulfram's Church, Grantham
  • Design influences after 1750, including Chippendale and Manwaring
  • The inventory of William, 4th, Lord Byron (1738).
  • The will of Joseph Newton (1752-53). 
  • Early advertisements:
    •  Joseph Newton of Fenton, published in The Stamford Mercury, on the 1st July 1725 and 1st July 1729, stating that he sold his chairs via John Fox, a gunsmith in Grantham, John Farrow, a joiner in Newark-upon-Trent, John Shackleton, a joiner in Nottingham, Gainsborough and Lincoln.
    • John Brown at the 'Three Chairs and Wallnut Tree' in St. Paul's Church-Yard from The Craftsman 11th April 1730 (See: Joseph Newton, Windsor Chair Maker of Fenton, Lincolnshire).
    • William Partridge of Banbury, published in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 13th July 1754.

Click on this link to watch the second lecture: Research, repair and authentic replication

About the author

Julian Parker

Julian Parker

Julian moved to Louth, Lincolnshire, eight years ago after thirty years as a criminal and civil fraud investigator (with a sideline in professional cooking after attending Leiths School of Food & Wine). He now spends much time examining and researching Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire chairs and their makers’ techniques, influences, and family histories. He is completing notes on all known East Midlands chair makers. He is the Regional Furniture Society Website Editor and welcomes contributions to the website or the Society's Twitter and Instagram feeds.