RFS Autumn 2022 Events

The autumn events programme continues our exploration of modest homes whose surviving furnishings project a strong sense of their past owners.  During the Lincoln conference we visited a small cottage at Navenby, which the village saved as a memorial to its long-time owner Mrs Smith. We continue the theme this autumn with a visit  for a small group to David Parr’s house at Cambridge in November.  Next April we expect to further this exploration at Hammersmith riverside, home of the Arts & Crafts movement.

Wednesday 28th September: a private visit to Westwood Manor  and Great Chalfield Manor Wilts.

Apply by September 1st 

‘When I have been asked to name the house which above all others has been sympathetically restored, furnished, and cherished, I never hesitate to quote Westwood. As a specimen of the smaller English country house it is perfection.’ James Lees-Milne.

After languishing as an apple store for most of the 19th century Westwood was bought by Edgar Lister, a diplomat at the Ottoman court. The house contains much furniture in native hardwoods, musical instruments and tapestries collected by Lister from 1911 until his death in 1956. He restored the house and adorned the garden with topiary; he was also an expert in needlepoint and upholstered much of its furniture in Florentine work.  We will lunch nearby either at The Courts garden, or at the famous George Inn, Norton St Philip before visiting  Great Chalfield Manor in the afternoon.  Fee £12 (which does not include refreshments) or entry to Gt Chalfield Manor (free to NT members)

Thursday 6th October: Visit to the Ercol factory and the workshop of a maritime woodcarver

Apply by September 1st.  Maximum 10 visitors

Our Spring visit to the Ercol factory was oversubscribed, so Ercol have kindly agreed to a repeat tour of their factory at Princes Risborough.   Here’s a 1935 clip from the Ercol YouTube channel of chairmaking in the Chilterns.

We will then travel 20 miles to lunch at Waterperry Gardens cafe (not included in fee) before visiting the on-site workshop of Andy Peters, a maritime woodcarver.  Whilst Andy works on all aspects of carved maritime restoration, he is most famed for the restoration or making of replicas of ships’ figureheads – awarded ‘National Treasure’ by Country Life magazine.  His projects including those of the Gotheborg, a replica of a Swedish East India Company ship from 1738, French frigate Hermione and the Cutty Sark. His work may be viewed at: www.maritimawoodcarving.co.uk

Princes Risborough is served by by rail from Marylebone station.  Those travelling by train will be offered a lift to Waterperry and may be dropped at High Wycombe station at the end of the day. 

The event is open to a maximum of ten visitors.  Fee £20. If you wish to attend solely the morning or the afternoon event, please contact me.

Tuesday 18th October: The Burrell Collection, Glasgow

Apply by October 1st

A visit to the refurbished Burrell Collection in Glasgow hosted by the curatorial team responsible for the intelligent re-display of Sir William’s outstanding collection of early furniture. Refreshments not included but the Burrell cafe will be open throughout our visit. Fee £10.

Thursday November 10th: The David Parr House, and Saffron Walden Museum

Apply by September 15th  

186 Gwydir Street, Cambridge was bought by David Parr in 1886. He was a working-class Victorian decorative artist who worked for the Cambridge firm of F R Leach & Sons on projects throughout the country.  Parr learnt his many skills there, painting houses and churches with designs created by Bodley, Kempe and William Morris. Over 40 years, David Parr decorated his terraced home with the designs he worked on every day. The house became a pattern book of his work.  After Parr’s death in 1927, his granddaughter Elsie came to live in the house to look after her grandmother and she stayed for the next 85 years. During her time in the house, Elsie married and raised two daughters but resisted any but the most essential alterations to her father’s creation, which remained unknown until her death . 

We will lunch in the attractive town of Saffron Walden (not included in the fee) before a tour of the early furniture and carved woodwork at the Saffron Walden museum and museum stores led by the curator. Much of their inventory, including a fine collection of early ceramics was donated to the town by wealthy residents in the early 20th century.     

The David Parr house is walkable from Cambridge station. Saffron Walden is reachable by train and bus from Cambridge, but rail travellers are likely to be be offered lifts. Return journey from Audley End station. Maximum 10 visitors. Fee £30.

Applications for all events using the booking form which can be printed from this website.

Jeremy Bate

The Only Spanish Mediaeval Artesonado Ceiling in the UK: 17 and 18 June at The British Academy

The Torrijos Ceiling

RFS members may be interested in the following.

Discover more about the only Spanish mediaeval artesonado ceiling in the UK: The British Academy Summer Showcase, June 17-18, London SW1Y 5AH. Made in the 1490s in Torrijos for Guitiérre de Cárdenas, chamberlain to Isabella the Catholic, and his wife Teresa Enríquez, the queen’s cousin, this 6m carved and gilded/painted ceiling is the focus of new research. It will be reconstructed and displayed at V&A East Storehouse, opening 2024.

Summer Showcase #8

How a wooden ceiling reveals mediaeval Spain’s diverse culture

The V&A’s Torrijos ceiling is one of four ceilings that came from a palace in the Spanish town of Torrijos. It was made in the 15th century for Christian patrons using Islamic craftsmanship, representing a moment when the Spanish noble elite chose to decorate their homes in a style that fused the cultures of the Iberian Peninsula. Beneath a scaled image of the ceiling, watch master woodcarver Naseer Yasna work with traditional Islamic techniques. Figure out how to fit together small-scale samples of ceiling sections, discover more about Islamic geometry and even have a go at decorating individual pieces to take home with you.

Opening hours:

Friday 17 June: 9am – 3pm

Researcher Late – Friday 17 June: 6 – 9pm

Saturday 18 June: 11am – 5pm

The British Academy

10-11 Carlton House Terrace

London SW1Y 5AH

Free entry: book now (or drop in on the day)

Regional Furniture Society – Notice of Annual General Meeting 2022

With a ‘normal’ Conference being held in June in Somerset, we are able to return to holding an AGM
‘in person’. However, some members who were unable to attend Conference welcomed the use of
Zoom AGMs, and so we plan to arrange for those wishing to attend via Zoom to be able to do so also.
This will depend on the Ibis Hotel Bridgwater’s equipment functioning properly.

The Annual General Meeting of the Regional Furniture Society will be held at the Ibis Hotel,
Bridgwater and by Zoom at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday 26 June.

Members who wish to take part in the AGM via Zoom should email the Secretary on:
justj2r2@gmail.com
The Secretary will then forward to those members the access code for the Zoom meeting and the
Agenda and the Minutes of the last AGM, the proposed amendments to the Constitution and the
Annual Report & Accounts for 2021. This will be done a week before the meeting.
The Annual Report and Accounts for 2021 are also available on the website; any member requiring a
paper version should send an A4 self-addressed envelope to the Secretary, requesting a copy.

Jeremy Rycroft
Secretary

The Chippendale Society – Annual Lecture

Forthcoming lecture which RFS members are very welcome to attend:

ANNUAL LECTURE 2022

Temple Newsam House, Leeds, Monday 23rd May, 2.00pm

Dr Kerry Bristol, Town versus Country. Rethinking Thomas Chippendales Nostell Account

Dr Bristol is Senior Lecturer at the University of Leeds and historian/advisor to the National Trust at Nostell Priory.

All welcome, tickets for non-members available on the door, £10. 

The event will finish at approximately 3.00 pm.

Newsletter Archive now online

In October 2021 the RFS Council approved a project whereby the back numbers of the Newsletters (which contain much interesting material by way of research pieces, visit/event reports, book reviews, notices of publication, members’ correspondence and obituaries) should be reviewed, scanned and made available online. I am grateful to John Boram and Diana Halliwell for providing me with a complete collection of all Newsletters since 1985 (including the publications of the Regional Furniture Study Group which pre-dated the setting up of the Society).

The material will in future be published (as is the Society’s practice for the articles in the Journal), following a three year delay after print publication. The back archive between 1985 and Spring 2022 amounts to more than 900 research pieces and visit/event reports, about 100 book reviews and another 50-odd notices of publication and, alas, 43 obituaries. That amounts just under 1100 items, all of which have been indexed and scanned, of which around 920 are published today. The remaining 170-odd from the last 6 issues (Newsletters 71 to 76 inclusive) will be published in due course after the three year delay.

The research pieces and visit/event reports may be found here; the book reviews here; and the obituaries here.

I have prepared hyperlinked Excel spreadsheet indexes for all three categories which may be downloaded from links found on those pages. The Excel spreadsheets may be easier to navigate, particularly for the 900+ research pieces and visit/event reports. I have also prepared an Excel spreadsheet index for all the 320-odd articles which have been published in the Journal which may be found on a link on the Journal back issues page. All of these downloadable spreadsheets have links directly to the website. If you would like all 4 indexes in one spreadsheet, it is here. It is my intention to update these indexes every six months for the Newsletters and each year for the Journal.

My favourite item discovered during the scanning project? A pair of ophthalmic Windsor chairs, from West Suffolk Hospital, into the central sticks of which the patient’s head was wedged whilst the eye examination took place!

From Lionel Reynold’s note in NL 16 in 1992

Happy hunting!

Julian Parker, Website Editor, 18 April 2022

P.S. Some of the originals have copy that is slightly smudged. Sometimes the paper is highly reflective. I hope all of the scans are legible but I am aware that some are less than perfect.

Grinling Gibbons and the Story of Carving: Conference at the V&A, 24 and 25 June 2022

Members may be interested to know of the forthcoming two-day conference ‘Grinling Gibbons and the Story of Carving’ which will be held on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 June 2022. Details for booking may be found on the V&A website where a link to the draft programme may also be found.

Speakers currently scheduled include:
Ada de Wit ,Curator of Works of Art and Sculpture at the Wallace Collection, London;
David Luard of Luard Conservation;
Alan Lamb, formerly of City and Guilds of London Art School, and Head of the Historic Carving Department;
Dr Frances Sands, Curator of Drawings and Books at Sir John Soane’s Museum, London;
Dr Gordon Higgott, independent architectural historian;
Dr Kira d’Alburquerque, Curator of Sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum;
Dr Lee Prosser, curator – historic buildings at Historic Royal Palaces;
Nick Humphrey, Curator of the Furniture Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum;
Dr Jonathan Tavares, Curator, Applied Arts of Europe Department, Art Institute of Chicago;
Lisa Ackerman, Associate Conservator, Art Institute of Chicago;
Dr Tessa Murdoch FSA, independent scholar;
Professor Lauren R. Cannady, University of Maryland;
Wendy Frère, doctoral student, Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB)/Fondation Périer-D’Ieteren;
Maria Cristina Gigli, Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Firenze; and
Sandra Rossi, Director, Painting Department and Wooden Sculpture Department, Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Firenze.

Symposium: Our Irish Chair: Good Design Never Grows Old, 2:30 p.m. Saturday 19th February 2022

RFS may be interested to learn that the National Museum of Ireland’s full collection of ‘Sligo’ chair or ‘Tuam’ chairs is on display for the first time. An online symposium has been organised at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday 19th February 2022. Participants include Claudia Kinmonth, Laura Mays, Stephen Jackson and David Jones.

More information about the symposium may be found here. More information about the exhibition (including a short video) may be found here. RFS members who wish to register free for the symposium must book via Eventbrite.

A presentation of the Burrell Furniture Collection, re-opening March 2022 – Monday 7th February at 6:00 p.m – Laura Bauld, Burrell Project Curator, Ed Johnson, Curator of Mediaeval and Renaissance Art, and Lindsay Gordon, Furniture Conservator, Glasgow Museums 

We are delighted to invite RFS members to a unique preview of the newly refurbished Burrell Collection, Glasgow, due to reopen this March having been closed for many years.  The re-ordered museum will create a much-improved display and interpretation of the collection of over 500 furniture items donated in 1944 by Glaswegian shipping magnate and collector Sir William Burrell and his wife Constance.   The collection includes English, Welsh, Scottish and continental pieces.  Laura, Ed and Lindsay’s talk will offer a behind-the-scenes exploration of the Burrell by curators and conservators, revealing the new methods of interpretation developed for the displays of furniture within the galleries. 

This event is for RFS members. To receive the link to the Zoom meeting, please apply to events.rfs@gmail.com by 16:00 Sunday 6th February. This event will not be available on YouTube for future viewing. 

Spring Events and Annual Conference

The following events are now available for booking via the website or by application to events.rfs@gmail.com:

Visit to Ercol Factory, Princes Risborough, followed by the re-opened Wycombe Museum, Thursday 24th March 2022.

Please note that we are now fully subscribed for the Ercol factory visit but are able to offer places to those wishing to join us for lunch and at the Wycombe Chair Museum and an afternoon devoted to their collection. The fee is the same (£20) since Ercol are kindly not charging us. 

Leeds and West Yorkshire Carved Oak Furniture of the 17th century, Thursday 12th May 2022. UPDATE: Please note that this event is now fully booked

Somerset Annual Conference – Wednesday 22nd to Sunday 26th June 2022. UPDATE: Please note that the Annual Conference is now fully booked.

Please book by 1 March 2022.

Visit to Ercol factory

Members may wish to know that a tour of the Ercol factory, in Princes Risborough, organised by Jeremy Bate, will be advertised in the forthcoming RFS Newsletter. The factory also features in the BBC’s ‘Inside the Factory’ on BBC2 tomorrow evening, Saturday 15 January 2022 at 6 p.m. So if you want a sneak preview, it’s available via the BBC iPlayer here.