In brief: The Windsor chair


A 19th century bow-back Thames Valley armchair. © Geffrye Museum, London: Photograph by Morley von Sternberg

The Windsor chair has been a popular form of seating for over 250 years and early examples are sought after by collectors. As well as having visual appeal, the attractions of the Windsor, its light weight, robust nature and relative cheapness, are no doubt responsible for its long-standing popularity. There are, however, a number of questions that arise about the history, development, construction and usage of Windsor chairs. The first question concerns the special design features that are unique to the Windsor chair. The second question concerns the historical background of the Windsor chair, in particular, how it seems to have started off as a fashionable garden seat known as a Forest chair which fairly soon was developed for indoor use. The third question concerns when and how the market for Windsor chairs was supplied and the influence that Forest chairs exported across the Atlantic had on American chair design. The fourth question deals with the makers of Windsor chairs and where they were located. In this connection, the fact that Windsor chairs exhibit a number of stylistic differences depending on where and by whom they were made makes them an ideal subject for research by the Regional Furniture Society.

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