Research in Progress: New Thinking about Medieval Furniture 13 March 2021 via Zoom

The next meeting in the series of Research in Progress meetings will take place on 13 March 2021 as a Zoom meeting. As with the previous two themed meetings, (Sixteenth-century Furniture and The Regional Chair), speakers will present current research from a variety of perspectives.

Programme 

10.00 Introduction (Liz Hancock, RFS Newsletter Editor)

Morning session (Chair: Chris Pickvance) 

10.15. Agnès Bos (University of St Andrews)  ‘A Reappraisal of the ‘Medieval’ Arconati-Visconti Dressoir at the Louvre’) Agnès Bos is a Lecturer in Art History at the University of St Andrews. She was a curator at the Louvre from 2006 to 2016 specialising in decorative arts from the late middle ages to the 17th century, with a focus on furniture, tapestries and textiles. In 2019 she published the catalogue raisonné of the Medieval and Renaissance furniture of the Louvre. For her articles see Agnès Bos | University of St Andrews – Academia.edu

11.00 Cécile Lagane (Centre Michel de Boüard /CRAHAM, Caen), ‘Evolution and Transformation of Furniture in its Architectural Environment: the Armoires of Bayeux (Normandy) and Aubazine (Limousin)’. Cécile’s doctoral thesis on Medieval furniture and furnishings from 500-1300 will be published shortly. For her articles see www.academia.edu

11.45 Discussion

12.00 Nick Humphrey (Furniture, Textiles and Fashion Dept., Victoria and Albert Museum,
London), ‘A Fifteenth-century Desk-cupboard at the Victoria and Albert Museum’. Nick is the curator responsible for pre-1700 furniture, woodwork and leatherwork and was involved in creating the British Galleries (2001), the Medieval and Renaissance galleries (2009), the Dr Susan Weber (Furniture) Gallery (2012), and the Europe galleries 1600-1815 (2015). His most recent publication revisits the museum’s most famous piece of furniture, the Great Bed of Ware; current research includes cypress wood chests and Latin-American lacquer.

12.45 Jens Kremb (Independent scholar, Bonn), ‘The Chest of Drawers: a Late Medieval Piece of Furniture?’  His doctoral thesis about painted tabletops in the late Middle Ages, was published as Bemalte Tischplatten des Spätmittelalters (Böhlau Verlag, 2015). He has created a research initiative on medieval furniture (www.inimm.de) and his articles are on www.jkremb.academia.edu

1.30 Discussion

1.45 Break

Afternoon session (Chair: Nick Humphrey)

2.15 Chris Pickvance (Chairman, RFS), ‘A Closer Look at a Group of English Clamped Chests from 1250-1350: Timber, Construction and Decoration’. Chris has been researching medieval chests for over ten years using dendrochronology.  His articles have appeared in Regional Furniture, The Antiquaries Journal and archaeological journals; see www.researchgate.net

3.00 Noah Smith (Scouloudi Fellow, Institute for Historical Research), ‘The ‘Courtrai chest’ at New College, Oxford: Iconography and Materiality’. This controversial chest, a focus of Noah’s research on Flemish medieval art, has been viewed both as a fake and a Belgian national treasure. This paper will explore the material and art historical aspects of the chest, addressing its potential provenance and suggesting a new iconographic reading of its frontispiece. Noah is in the final year of his PhD at the University of Kent, and has work forthcoming in several publications. 

3.45 Rachel Sycamore (MRes student in Medieval Archaeology, Worcester University), ‘Dug-out Church Chests in Herefordshire and Worcestershire’. Rachel is in the third and final year of her Master’s degree. Her research focuses on dug-out church chests and has used dendrochronology to date four in the two counties so far. Her paper will discuss the construction methods, ironwork and physical characteristics of examples, comparing and contrasting those which have been dated.

4.30 Discussion

4.45 Close

The event is free and open to non-members, but registration is necessary. Please email Jeremy Bate, RFS Events Organizer events.rfs@gmail.com. The last date for registration is Thursday 11 March. Zoom Meeting Invitations will be sent on 12 March. The waiting room will be open from 9.30 on 13 March. The day will be recorded.

Furniture History Society forthcoming lectures

Members may be interested in the following FHS forthcoming lectures. Last year the FHS very kindly made their talks available to RFS members free of charge.

This year these talks will only be free to FHS members who will receive the zoom links automatically the week before. Non-member tickets will be priced £5 and will be available through the events email so if you would like to watch please apply to events@furniturehistorysociety.org. Further details may be found here.

31 Jan             BIFMO: Eleanor Quince, Principal Teaching Fellow in Modern British History at the                            University of Southampton: ‘From the provinces to the capital: Gillows of Lancaster and London’

14 Feb             FHS:  ‘Arts and Crafts in the Digital Age’ Luke Hughes in conversation with Aidan                            Walker, author of ‘Furniture in Architecture- The Work of Luke Hughes’

21 Feb            FHS: Dr. Rebecca Tilles, Associate Curator of 18th Century French & Western European                  Fine and Decorative Art, Hillwood Estate Museum & Gardens. ‘Highlights from Hillwood: Marjorie Merriweather Post’s taste for 18th-Century European Furniture’

Lecture Series: Seminar in Palaeography & Manuscript Studies 2021, Bodleian Libraries, Zoom on Mondays at 2.15pm (GMT)

Members might like to know about this series of lectures from the Bodleian.

Meetings will take place online via Zoom on Mondays at 2.15pm (GMT) in weeks 1, 3, 5, and 7. Original manuscripts will be shown. Registration is required. E-mail: bookcentre@bodleian.ox.ac.uk . Your message must be received by noon on the Friday before the seminar (or register for the whole series by noon, Friday 15 January).

Week 3 (1 February 2021)
Bodleian and John Rylands curators
Newly acquired medieval book coffers at the Bodleian and the John Rylands Libraries

Week 5 (15 February 2021)
Adam Whittaker (Birmingham City University)
Medieval music theory in Bodleian manuscripts

Week 7 (1 March 2021)
Marc Smith (École des chartes)
Late medieval writing models: contextualizing MS. Ashmole 789

AGM Reminder

You will already have seen a post indicating that the AGM has had to be arranged as a Zoom meeting. It indicated that you should contact Jeremy Rycroft on justj2r2@gmail.com to obtain the code and password. This arrangement stops non-members accessing and interfering with the meeting. We need more members to join the AGM to reach our quorum. Please email Jeremy to get the meeting reference code and log on Saturday 24 October at 2:30 p.m., if you are able to. You will be sent a copy of the Agenda, last year’s AGM minutes and some guidance on using Zoom. If you have questions, please send these in in advance to Jeremy Rycroft too, if possible, so someone is ready to answer them.

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: justj2r2@gmail.com

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
Secretary

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.

Society Events for 2020 – UPDATED for cancellations and postponements

Regional Furniture Society 2020 events were open for booking, but some have had to be cancelled or postponed because of coronavirus risk

Forms are available on this website for members to print off (links to be found within individual events below). These forms will also be included in the Spring newsletter which is scheduled to arrive with members in February. All events have a finite number of places so to be sure of a place you may consider booking early.   The website will be updated when an event is fully subscribed or if an itinerary is substantially altered.

Some events may ask for a specific date on your cheque. We sometimes retain cheques for events and bank them together shortly before the event taking place. Cheques are only valid for six months, so please follow the instructions on dating and provide an individual cheque for each event.  If you do not possess a cheque book,  we may accept transfer of payment into  our bank account by agreement with the events organiser, but this needs to be arranged at least 2 months ahead of the event.

Leeds and West Yorkshire carved oak furniture of the 17th century.

Thursday 23th April 2020 – NOW CANCELLED because of coronavirus risk – to be rescheduled in Autumn 2020 or Spring 2021. No cheques have been banked.

Peter Brears has generously agreed to lead a one-day study tour of furniture of the  key houses and churches which featured in his recent article in our 2019 journal. 

Departing from Leeds station at 10:00 by coach, we will visit Shibden Hall, Halifax, and  lunch at the 17th c. Shibden Mill Inn set within a deep fold of the picturesque Shibden Valley.  We will then visit Oakwell Hall on the outskirts of Leeds, followed by St John’s church in the city centre, which we were unable to access on our Chippendale study day two years ago.  It is a short walk from St John’s to the station.

Trains from Kings Cross take about 2hr 15 mins.  Consider staying an extra day at one of the great range of hotels in Leeds and visiting Temple Newsam or Harewood House.

Cost: £60, including lunch.  Applications to be received by March 9th.

 Annual Conference, Lincoln

NOW POSTPONED from Monday 22nd – Friday 26th June 2020 provisionally to Wednesday 23rd to Sunday 27th June 2021

UPDATE: this event has, alas, had to be postponed because of the coronavirus risk: no cheques had been banked at the date of cancellation.

The text below is the original text relating to the now-postponed conference. It will be updated when the position becomes clearer.

 The date of this year’s conference has changed from the date posted in the RFS autumn Newsletter, and the Friday programme appearing in the Spring Newsletter has been amended since going to print.

 Lincoln is a city of two parts. The cathedral and castle share the heights and the commercial hub with an earlier history on the river below, linked by the aptly-named Steep Street.  It is a city enjoying a renaissance, peered by modern industry and two dynamic universities.  We will be staying in the high town at the Bishop Grosseteste University, specialising in mature student courses, where all rooms have small (4 foot) double beds which can be made up for single or double occupancy. Couples may decide to share a room or book two rooms.  There is ample car parking. Lincoln is served by a branch line from Newark North Gate station on the fast east coast route.   The university is a short taxi-ride from Lincoln station and buses connect it with the city centre.

 Monday 22nd June will find many delegates arriving at Lincoln and choosing to stay Monday night for an 8:30 start on Tuesday morning.  A package of: 2-course refectory supper, bed & breakfast may be booked on the application form.

 We have arranged an optional private visit on Monday afternoon to the  Elizabethan Doddington Hall, just to west of the city.  The house has remained in the same family for 400 years, and contains an interesting and varied collection of furniture and pictures imaginatively presented with the current owner’s contemporary ceramic collection. Whilst the house will not be open to the public on that day, two cafes and a restaurant will be available for us to lunch on arrival. (not included in the cost of the visit). Members arriving by train to Lincoln may take an affordable taxi to Doddington and will be offered lifts to the university at the end of our visit. This Monday event is priced separately on the booking form.

 Tuesday 23rd.  The start of the main conference, will be devoted to the city of Lincoln,  starting at the cathedral: considered by some, the finest gothic church in Europe.  We will visit the Wren Library containing 15th c. reading desks, where William Sergeant will introduce us to their collection of early forest chairs probably by Joseph Newton of Fenton alongside those from his own collection brought together for comparison for the first time.  Then the opportunity of a roof tour, taking in the bell-ringing chamber, the triforium, and the spectacular roof space retaining much of its original timber. 

The west front of the cathedral faces the castle, where we will visit the the old prison with its unique 19th c. chapel, designed to enable the prisoners to see the minister but not their fellow inmates, and the new subterranean space created for the Magna Carta. After lunch we will visit the Usher Gallery (currently under threat of closure) founded by jeweller and watchmaker James Usher (1845-1921) to study his collection of 18th. c. locally made clocks including some rare examples with wooden movements.  Fitter members may walk down Steep Street through the commercial centre and over the only surviving medieval bridge with shops on it, to St Mary’s Guildhall, one of the lost medieval palaces of England, with a  much older surprise recently exposed beneath the floor. Those choosing to remain in the upper city may  explore The Collection – a new museum of the county’s history in art and artefacts, well-placed opposite the Usher Gallery.

 Wednesday 24th:  north by coach to visit Gainsborough Old Hall, containing the largest collection of 17th. c. furniture in the county.  Then to Epworth church and rectory (birthplace of John Wesley) with its eclectic collection of chairs and after lunch, a private visit to Scawby Hall, home of the Nelthorpe family for over 400 years, guided by Kristin Nelthorpe.

 Thursday 25th:  we travel by coach to the attractive market town of Louth to view Sudbury’s hutch, given to the church in 1502. Then to a rare ‘mud and stud’ cottage near Horncastle, where owner Andrew, will demonstrate traditional thatching, while his wife, Ruth will guide us around their home containing furniture collected by Andrew’s mother from local farm sales. Then, pausing to picnic at the Tudor brick Tattershall Castle, we will travel south for a private visit to a 17th c. ‘artisan baroque’  manor house to study the owner’s collection of oak furniture.

 The huge county of Lincolnshire has a glut of fascinating churches, some with carved screens and many retaining their  distinctive medieval chests with spectacular Gothic tracery. On Wednesday and Thursday we will endeavour to fit in brief stops to explore a number of these churches, and a real surprise: a Gothic church furnished in the finest mahogany.

 On Friday morning 26th,  after breakfast we will depart the university by our own transport to Navenby  ( 20mins. south of Lincoln), to visit the unmodernised cottage occupied by  Mrs. Smith until her death at 102 years, which has just reopened following conservation of the roof.

 Friday afternoon 26th, an optional  visit, for a limited number, to  a guided tour of a fascinating collection of family portraits in Fulbeck spanning 400 years ,a few miles south of Navenby.   Friday Lunch is not included but there are pubs serving food in Navenby and Fulbeck.

 Those members departing by train, who wish to attend one or both of the Friday events will be offered lifts and delivered late morning or late afternoon to Newark station, convenient for onward travel. Please indicate on the booking form if you would like a lift.

 The Furniture Surgery and AGM will take place on Wednesday or Thursday evenings after dinner.

 Costs:   Main conference, including bed, breakfast, all meals except some coffee and tea breaks, admissions and coach travel on two days from Tuesday morning 23rd June to Friday 26th June, departing after lunch : residential, single occupancy £480, double occupancy  £420 per person,  non-residential £310.

 Additional costs:   Monday 22nd June. Refectory two course supper, bed & breakfast; single occupancy: £83, double occupancy: £65 per person  

Monday 22nd June: guided visit to Doddington Hall:  £13

Friday 26th June: p.m. visit to a private portrait collection: £10

Lancaster

Friday 2nd October 2020: Update: not yet postponed or cancelled; update will be posted as soon as a decision is made.

 Celebrating the reprieve of Lancaster’s fine selection of museums from threatened closure, and the town’s celebrated connection with  the Gillow family we will be visiting The Judges’ Lodgings, The City Museum, Lancaster Castle, including the Grand Jury room not usually shown, and Lancaster Priory – all within a compact radius, and visit the Maritime Museum down on the river. There will be the opportunity to lunch as a group in one of several new restaurant/cafes springing up in the town – to be selected shortly before the event.  Those planning a longer stay, may like to plan to stay at the Art Deco Midland Hotel at nearby Morecambe.

 Cost of the day £25, not including lunch.  Please note the instruction on the booking form for dating your cheque.