Chicago and Milwaukee, Friday 3 October – Saturday 11 October 2014

Crab Tree Farm

It is still possible to join the Society’s visit to Chicago and the Milwaukee area in October.  Flight arrangements are being made individually but we will meet in Chicago on Saturday 4 October, staying in a city centre hotel for 3 nights, then by coach to Crab Tree Farm for a day visit and on up to Milwaukee, where we stay for a further 2 nights before returning to Chicago for one last night and free day.  This last night is optional.

This trip will not be wall to wall regional furniture.  It includes Crab Tree Farm, the museum formed by John Bryan with outstanding collections of English and American furniture and one of the best collections anywhere of American Arts and Crafts furniture and decorative arts, so this is certainly a highlight for those seriously interested in furniture; and the Chipstone Foundation, a private collection with extensive first-class collections of fine American furniture and early English pottery, the Foundation is run by Jon Prown, our erstwhile American Secretary and a leading expert in American furniture history.  In the Milwaukee area we plan to visit two further collections in historic houses: one is a lovely old house with a fascinating personal collection but a visit here will depend on the owner’s health and this may not prove possible. The other, Kelton House Farm, is a relocated colonial Massachusetts house with a collection of early colonial American furniture mainly from New England.  Apart from these we will be seeing great 19 and 20th century architecture in Chicago, a city with a character and energy all on its own, superb art and decorative arts in the Art Institute, Frank Lloyd Wright’s studio and Unity Temple, and a quirky artist’s house and eclectic collection at the Roger Brown House. There will be plenty to do and see but if you are hoping for 6 days of vernacular furniture this trip will not deliver.

The cost of accommodation, coach travel, entrances etc will be £835 per person, based on two persons sharing a room.  There is a supplement for a single room.  This price will reduce if a few more people join the tour.

As an indication re flights, at the moment return Virgin Atlantic flights direct to Chicago from Heathrow seem to be about £750; non-direct flights about £650.

If you would like further information, please contact Polly Legg (

Exhibition: British Folk Art at Tate Britain 10 June – 31 August 2014

A new exhibition opened at Tate Britain last week.

From the Tate Britain website:
“Discover the extraordinary and surprising works of some of Britain’s unsung artists in the first major exhibition of British folk art. Steeped in tradition and often created by self-taught artists and artisans, the often humble but always remarkable objects in this exhibition include everything from ships’ figureheads to quirky shop signs, Toby jugs to elaborately crafted quilts…Folk art has often been neglected in the story of British art: by uncovering this treasure trove of folk art objects, this exhibition asks why.”

For more information, booking tickets and listings of associated events see here:




From the Country House to the Laboratory

MAY 14 COVER.indd

This week’s issue of Country Life magazine (May 14th) includes an article by RFS  journal editor Adam Bowett.

From the Country House to the Laboratory celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Furniture History Society which was founded in 1964 and he suggests some ways that the society may advance. Adam explains how research into furniture history and its related fields (largely through innovations from across the Atlantic) has moved forward in leaps and bounds over the succeeding years and how neglect by the FHS of the exciting field of vernacular furniture studies led to the formation of the Regional Furniture Society twenty years later.

He illustrates his arguments with photos of the evolution of period room displays at the Geffrye Museum in recent years and examples of scientific timber analysis of a 13th century coffer from Westminster.

Whilst promoting the work of both furniture societies, he ends his article by challenging the FHS to revisit it’s original aims and appears to suggest the unification of the two societies. Do get a copy before it disappears from your newsagent’s shelves on Tuesday.

Exhibition: Pots and Tiles of the Middle Ages, Sam Fogg, until May 16th


Pots and TilesReaders may be interested to know about a fascinating  exhibition currently on at the Sam Fogg gallery in London,W1:  Pots and Tiles of the Middle Ages.  This rare functional pottery was described many years ago by W. B. Honey as the some of the most beautiful pottery in the world.

The  collection of largely English and French items (including at least one pot from Dorset and a large number of tiles from a church in Somerset) has been assembled by Maureen Mellor of Oxford University over the last 20 years and is displayed at eye level with no glass barrier. You can view a selection of the exhibits here.

Entry is free and there is a fine illustrated catalogue at £20, see here. The show runs until May 16th.






Monty Don’s Real Craft


You may have caught the first episode of a new series, Monty Don’s Real Craft on More4 earlier this week, in which “Monty Don helps gifted amateurs revive crafts of the past as they compete to win a prized commission from a prestige buyer.”   Episode 2, to be shown on More4 on  Monday 21st April at 9pm, is called ‘Wood’  and involves three amateur furniture-makers competing “for the chance to work with one of the UK’s most respected furniture companies.” It will definitely be worth a watch as some of the programme was filmed earlier this year with Dr Bill Cotton at his home in Cirencester.

Exhibition: William Kent – Designing Georgian Britain, Victoria & Albert Museum, 22 March – 13 July


If you haven’t already seen it, the V&A’s current exhibition William Kent – Designing Georgian Britain, will be of  some interest.

Experience the world of William Kent, the most prominent architect and designer in early Georgian Britain and explore how his versatility and artistic inventiveness set the style for his age when Britain defined itself as a new nation and developed an Italian-inspired style.” For more information see here.

To complement this major design show we have organised a morning visit to Chiswick House, for members on Thursday15th May. See the Events page for further information and booking details.