The Churches Conservation Trust Online Lectures Series – October 2020

Members may be interested in this lecture series being given online by the Churches Conservation Trust. They are livestreamed via the CCT Facebook page.

Thursday 1st October, 1-2pm (GMT): Dr Gabriel Byng – Construction, Change and Crisis: Church building in the shadow of the Black Death

Thursday 8th October, 1-2pm (GMT): Prof. Paul Binski – A Tomb with a View: Medieval Death

Thursday 15th October, 1-2pm (GMT): Dr Cindy Wood – A Medieval Guide to Escaping Purgatory: The practices of the late Medieval Cult of the Dead

Thursday 22nd October, 1-2pm (GMT): Dr Francis Young- Macabre Church Lore: Ghosts, Witches and Monsters in England’s Churches and Churchyards

Thursday 29th October, 1-2pm (GMT): Suzie Lennox – Raiders of the Grave: Macabre tales of Bodysnatchers & what churches did to stop them

Many thanks to Roisin Astell for the text and links to the programme.

Regional Furniture Society – Notice of Annual General Meeting 2020

National restrictions on meetings have recently been strengthened due to the resurgence of the
coronavirus; the expectation of a second wave affecting both London and certain provincial areas
means the regulations are extremely unlikely to be relaxed in time to organise a normal AGM as
intended. Our plan to hold the meeting at the Museum of the Home, announced in the Newsletter,
has therefore been thwarted.

The Council has decided the only viable option, if we are to approve our Annual Report in time for
submission to the Charity Commission, is to hold a Zoom Annual General Meeting. This will also allow
us to confirm Council Members for the next year, allowing the Society to function next year.

The Annual General Meeting of the Regional Furniture Society will be held by Zoom at 2:30 p.m. on
Saturday 24 October.

Will all members who wish to take part email the Secretary on:

The Secretary will then forward to those members the access code for the Zoom meeting.
The Annual Report and Accounts for 2019 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

An agenda and any further essential details on the conduct of the meeting will be forwarded with the
Zoom access code. While every attempt will be made to allow full interaction, the technology is new
to us, so we ask members to bear with us.

The Annual Report and Accounts for the year ended 31 December 2019 may be found here.

Lecture: Sunday, 20 September 2020, 19:00 Camille Mestdagh – Valuing old, making new and selling both: The Beurdeleys in Paris (1818-1895)

The Furniture History Society have again kindly invited RFS members to an online lecture.

The Furniture History Society invites you to the latest in our series of free online lectures:

Camille Mestdagh

Independent scholar in the history of furniture, decorative arts and the history of the art market

Valuing old, making new and selling both: The Beurdeleys in Paris (1818-1895)

Sunday, 20 September 2020, 19:00 (BST)

Console table, clock and vases designed by Alfred Beurdeley, c. 1865, Beurdeley private archives © Camille Mestdagh

Camille received her PhD in December 2019 (‘The Beurdeley dynasty: from boutique to workshop, a history of trade in antiques and of furniture production in 19th century Paris’). She published her first academic thesis on the Parisian furniture workshops as a book, L’ameublement d’art français 1850-1900 in 2010. Her research now revolves around the correlations between the establishment of the Parisian market for antiques, the cabinet and bronze makers production in the second half of the nineteenth century and the collectors’ choices. She worked for a London auction house and for the National Trust Collections department before returning to Paris, where she now works as an independent scholar and lecturer, notably for the Institute of Arts and Culture and the School of Culture Management and the Art Market.
For more details, including a short summary of this lecture and instructions (including a link) for how to join the meeting, please click here.


27 September 2020, 19.00 (BST): BIFMO lecture by Stacey Sloboda, ‘St Martin’s Lane: Art, Design, and the Cultural Geography of the Eighteenth-Century London Art World’

Regional Furniture Volume 34 – a taster

Regional Furniture Volume 34 will include an article about the chest in St Martin’s Church, Hindringham, Norfolk.

Johann von Katzenelnbogen in Maryland has an interesting blog which mentions this chest and also has a clever piece of detective work on mediaeval woodworking tools, starting with a stained glass window in the cathedral at Chartres.

Watch this space …

‘Gothic’ chests: caveat emptor!

This article describes a plain Spanish chest which has had gothic carving added in recent decades. John Andrews’s book British Antique Furniture: price guide and reasons for values (ACC, 1989, p. 162) illustrates a larger chest which has been later carved in a very similar style of gothic carving. 
There are various estimates of the original dates of such chests, from sixteenth to eighteenth century.

The Welsh Stick Chair – a new book


Regional Furniture Society members will be interested to learn that Tim and Betsan Bowen have just published The Welsh Stick Chair – a visual record (Pethe Press 2020). Welsh-speaking members and those learning Welsh will be delighted to discover that the volume is bilingual with the text in Welsh and English next to each other. The authors have used images of the chairs, stools and tables which they have photographed over many years as dealers in Welsh vernacular furniture. Their aim in producing this book is to extend the knowledge and appreciation of these important items of the Welsh folk art tradition. The book is available here. A review will appear in the Newsletter in due course.

Tobias Jellinek: Early British Chairs and Seats: 1500 – 1700

The Events Secretary has received this message from Ian Deakin who was looking forward to attending the cancelled West Yorkshire study day:

“Myself and my family are NHS employees currently working with the Covid19 crisis. I find it a great release for me to learn more about my passion for early oak furniture when I have time and start to visit collections again.  I have been looking for some time for Tobias Jellinek’s Early British Chairs and Seats 1500 -1700*. If you know of any member who is selling a copy or where it can be sourced at a ‘reasonable’ cost I would be very interested. There are copies available online (which don’t seem to sell) for very high prices at the moment.

 If you have a copy you are prepared to part with, please contact the Events Secretary who will forward your message to Ian.

*ISBN-13: 978-1851495818



Keeping Members informed and entertained during the current crisis

Unfortunately Society events have had to be postponed or cancelled because of coronavirus risk. Here is the updated calendar which makes for sad reading.

In order to keep us up-to-date and, I hope, entertained, I have started both an RFS Twitter feed (which updates onto the front page of this website) and an Instagram feed for which I cannot locate a widget to achieve the same.  At the moment I am posting pictures mostly from our magnificent back catalogue of articles, with links on the Twitter feed to the relevant article from which the picture has been chosen.  I am supplementing this material with occasional contributions from William Sergeant’s and my Lincolnshire Chair blog.

Interesting and beautiful contributions are also invited from anyone who would like to contribute: please send photograph(s) (and brief caption explaining what, where and when) to

Julian Parker

Website Editor

in succession to:

Ananda Rutherford, to whom our very grateful thanks for her nine years as Website Editor, and my personal thanks for handing over the website to me smoothly, with kindness, and in excellent order. I will try to maintain her high standards!

Blair Castle – update – find a copy of Country Life!

RFS members may like to get hold of a copy of the March 11th issue of Country Life:  the magazine contains a fascinating article by former RFS journal editor David Jones which dovetails an article on the building history of the castle by Mary Miers in the same issue. Members may recall that David conducted a study day of the 18th and 19th century furniture at Blair Castle in Perthshire last year, and this article reveals his recent discoveries.

In the turbulent times of the Jacobite rebellion of  the 1740s the Duke of Atholl commenced a transformation of  the castle from an antiquated fortress to a sophisticated Highland palace. He employed an impressive role-call of London and Scottish furniture makers including Thomas Chippendale. His programme was continued by successive Dukes reflecting the changes of fashion yet with the unifying strand of using unusual native woods, mostly from the Atholl Estates.

The Plantagenet (a pun on the Latin name for broom : Planta Genista) bureau-bookcase by Perth maker George Sandeman  ‘achieves unique whimsical effects’ in the use of broom-wood veneers laid in a striped pattern on an oak carcass. (photo: Country Life)


David suggests that  the imaginative patronage of furniture makers by successive Dukes of Atholl over the course of 100 years and their use of native timbers over mahogany is unparalleled in any other house.

Jeremy Bate


The Worshipful Company of Upholders’ Travel Bursary


Applications are invited for The Worshipful Company of Upholders’ annual Travel Bursary (£1,000). The scheme is open to applicants who need to undertake travel with regard to any aspect of the trades currently represented by the Company, namely upholstery and soft furnishings, the funeral trade and the bedding industry. The focus of the travel could include: design, manufacture (craft or industrial), service improvement, history, exhibitions and conferences, teaching and training or the conservation of furniture textiles. Please note the deadline for 2020 applications is 31 March 2020. Full details can be found here.