February’s chair of the month is a miniature joined rocking chair with a heart motif in the splat. The chair is about 10cm high (4”) and was made by local chair maker Stuart King. King gave this chair to Wycombe Museum as part of a group of four miniature chairs in 1977.
Chairs, miniature and full sized, with and without hearts in the splat were sometimes made as love tokens for Valentine’s Day, and at other times of the year.
January’s Chair of the Month is a wheelchair with a beech frame and caned seat and back, made in High Wycombe in about the 1870s. It is not known which of the many local factories made this chair, but Glenisters certainly made caned wheelchairs and other local makers probably made similar chairs too. J Mole of High Wycombe specialised in what they called ‘invalid chairs’, from 1918 until their closure in 1935.
J Mole’s decision to specialise in furniture for disabled people might have been a response to an increased demand due to injuries in World War 1. In the years following World War 2, the Paralympics were established in Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire. The games were initially for injured service men and women.
Wycombe Museum is exploring the local Paralympic story in Buckinghamshire in collaboration with local young people with disabilities, supported by a Together We Build grant from Bucks Culture. Together We Build is a partnership project centred on the story of the Paralympics.
December’s Chair of the Month is a modern Windsor by Ercol of High Wycombe. It was made as part of a contract for Wycombe High School when the school moved to the Marlow Hill site in 1956 . The design is part of Ercol’s Windsor Range, launched in 1950. Company founder Luciano Ercolani designed the range, collaborating with draughtmen, craftsmen and engineers, ensuring that each design was practical to produce in the factory. Like the traditional Windsor chairs that inspired the design, this Ercol Windsor is made from elm, beech and ash.
Ercol were established in High Wycombe by Ercolani in 1920, initially as Furniture Industries Ltd, becoming Ercol in 1928. Ercol moved to the new Princes Risborough site in 2002.
This chair can be seen in the factory area of the chair galleries at Wycombe Museum.
The back of the seat is stamped ELLIOT AND SONS/ A.W.F. / E.S/ 1917 / G.R.V. chairs. It can be seen in the ‘A History of Wycombe in 10 Objects’ display at Wycombe Museum.
During World War 1, High Wycombe furniture factories diversified to make all kinds of wooden items for the military including tent pegs and wooden aircraft parts such as propellors. They also made furniture for the military, including this chair. Similar stamped chairs in Lincoln Cathedral are believed to have come from a military hospital. Elliott’s Factory ran from 1887-1978 and had premises in Shaftsbury Street and Desborough Road.
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.