Members may be interested to know that Lyon & Turnbull have a sale in London on 28 October which features furniture by Gerald Summers, founder of Makers of Simple Furniture in the 1930s. A piece by Martha Deese about the furniture may be found here. The furniture may be found here.
Following the publication of the most recent RFS Newsletter, number 77, I have updated the indexes to the Newsletter Research Articles, the Book Reviews and the Obituaries to include NL 77. I have also published 39 newsletter pieces, 3 reviews and 2 obituaries from RFS Newsletter 71, (Autumn 2019) on the relevant pages of the website. A spreadsheet containing the latest index to all parts may be downloaded here.
Julian Parker, Website Editor
15 October 2022
The 2023 RFS Conference is in the early stages of planning. We expect to be based at Bangor University, Caernarfonshire, commencing Wednesday evening 5 July 2023 and ending the Sunday morning 9 July 2023.
RFS members may be interested in the following Furniture History Society Zoom lecture by Tony Peart, whose fascinating house in Carlisle some RFS members visited during our Carlisle and the Borders conference in 2016.
A Sense of Proportion and Puritanical Love of Simplicity: The Furniture Designs of
C. F. A. Voysey
Sunday, 9 October 2022
19.00-20.15 (BST), 14.00-15.15 (EDT)
Supported by the The Voysey Society, in association with BIFMO
C. F. A. Voysey (1857-1941) was one of the leading architects of the Arts & Crafts Movement. He was of the generation that immediately followed
A. W. N. Pugin and E. W. Godwin and, like them, saw the architect’s role as not to simply design a building but also to design the objects and furnishings that would be found within it, from the paper on the walls to the cutlery on the table. Even before his architectural career was fully established, he was widely celebrated as the leading pattern designer of his generation and would go on to design metalware, lighting, sculpture, and ceramics.
Voysey had a long career as a furniture designer; his earliest design dating to the mid-1880s and his last to the mid-1930s but, as with his architecture, it took many years of trial and error for him to ‘find his feet’. By 1900 he had matured into a consummate designer of simple, austere, oak furniture and was creating the iconic pieces that would influence the designs of Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles Rennie Mackintosh and which, even today, remain highly valued in design collections worldwide.
Tony Peart is a Senior Lecturer in Illustration at The University of Cumbria and a Trustee of the C. F. A. Voysey Society (voyseysociety.org). He has researched and written about most aspects of Voysey’s decorative design and related nineteenth and early twentieth century decorative design. He is currently preparing a monograph on The Birmingham Guild of Handicraft and is in the early stages of researching British manufactured anthroposophical furniture.
FHS Members will be emailed the link one week before the lecture, non-members can pay £5 to attend via this link. using event code UMEHEH
For any queries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Save the Date:
BIFMO-FHS ONLINE AUTUMN COURSE
British Furniture Making and the Globalised Trade
Every Wednesday at 4.30 – 7.30pm (GMT) throughout November 2022, four speakers will deliver presentations on this theme on Zoom.
The Impact of Immigration on the Furniture Trade in the Seventeenth Century
Furniture Making in London and Europe
Global Networks and Furniture Making in the Eighteenth Century
Immigration and Emigration of Furniture Makers in Britain and France in the Nineteenth Century
Making the Modern World: Global Connections in the Twentieth Century
Don’t worry if you miss the event live as most of the sessions will be recorded and links to recordings will be sent to ticketholders.
It will be possible to book the sessions individually or as a course.
Tickets will be available on Eventbrite from the beginning of October.
More information will be available shortly on the FHS website.
If you have further questions please email Ann Davies on email@example.com.
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.
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.
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)
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:
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.
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 Chippendale’s 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.