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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
The Spring 2020 edition (No.72) of the RFS Newsletter is now available to members. In this issue Future Society Events including visits to Leeds and Lancaster, the Research in Progress meeting on medieval furniture and the annual conference in Lincoln are detailed. There are many interesting contributions to the Short Notes and Queries section, including an appeal for further information on spring locks in medieval chests, a note on new light on the Ordsall Hall, Salford, bed and a newly-identified chest of drawers by a mid-nineteenth century Weymouth cabinet maker. The most recent Letter from America highlights the range of symposia, exhibitions and conferences in the United States this year, while the update on British and Irish Furniture Makers Online (BIFMO) describes new material recently published and encourages feedback and further contributions. Reports from the Oak House, West Bromwich and the week-long study tour to Ireland show the diversity of furniture and buildings visited by RFS members. Full details are in the Newsletter.
- Letter from America – Daniel Ackermann
- Spring locks in medieval chests– Chris Pickvance
- New light on the Ordsall Hall bed
– Adam Bowett
- Gillows research material – Susan Stuart
- Evolution of the rocking chair – John Boram
- Judges’ Lodgings Museum, Lancaster – Lynda Jackson
- The London Upholders’ Company and its place in furniture history – John Houston
- A Weymouth cabinet maker, 1869 – Piers Keating
- The Great Grenadier’s chair – Linda Hall
- A Welsh-American stick-back – Jeremy Bate
- British and Irish Furniture Makers Online – Laurie Lindey
- Oak House
- West Bromwich
- Ireland Study Tour
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
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.
A quick reminder that volume 33, the 2019 edition, of the Regional Furniture Journal is currently available to all members.
This year’s contents: Volume 33 – 2019
- Leeds and West Yorkshire Carved Oak Furniture of the Seventeenth Century, Peter Brears
- HUBBARD GRANTHAM and I HUBBARD GRANTHAM: a Late Georgian Windsor Chairmakers’ Whodunnit, William Sergeant and Julian Parker
- The Great Chair of Sir Ralph Warburton, 1603, Adam Bowett
- Current Developments in the Scientific Dating of Wood, Martin Bridge
- Triangular Gothic Stools: a Further note, Christopher Pickvance
In keeping with our policy of providing free and open access to back issues, the 2016 Journal is now available online here, on our Journal web page.
In this issue there are varied contributions to the short notes and queries section, ranging from an appeal for help in the search for John Lombe’s Piedmont chest, thought to have been used to carry designs and models of silk-throwing equipment key to the foundation of the mill in Derby c. 1717, to the discovery of a chair that is the missing link in how Windsor chair making began in Grantham in 1800. A note on John Erhart Rose, a nineteenth-century cabinetmaker in Virginia, and a Letter from America bring news of current furniture research in the United States. Reports from the annual conference in Shropshire show the richness of furniture and buildings visited. Hans Piena from the Netherlands Open Air Museum at Arnhem gave the Christopher Gilbert Memorial Lecture, examining the history of the Dutch ladder-back chair. Full details are in the Newsletter.
The Spring 2019 edition (No.70) of the RFS Newsletter is now available to members. It features reports of recent Society events and a number of illustrated articles on regional furniture:
- Letter from America – Daniel Ackermann
- An unrecorded medieval chest at St Mary’s church, Horsham – Chris Pickvance
- Medieval chests in Kent – Chris Pickvance
- The Landkey Parish Table purchased by the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon – Alison Mills
- Joseph Newton’s Windsor chair advertisements, 1725 and 1729 – Julian Parker
- Windsor chairs at Newstead Abbey – Julian Parker
- John Bray of Bourne, Lincolnshire, Windsor chair-maker – William Sergeant and Julian Parker
- The myth of the patinated Windsor chair – Bob Parrott
- A caned library chair by John Syers at Broughton Hall, North Yorkshire – Brian Crossley
- A little wider please: a barber-surgeon’s chair – Jeremy Bate
- Fashionable furniture in Haverfordwest: a card table by William Owen – Sarah Medlam
- Unlocking the Geffrye – Emma Hardy
- Lawrence Neal, chair-maker: when is a chair more than a chair?
- Sitting Firm
- The rush-seated chair: a celebration of past, present and future
- V&A Dundee: The Scottish Design Galleries
The sharp-eyed amongst you may have noticed that we have gradually been making past Journal articles available on the Journal back issues page of this site.
Volumes 1 -23 (1989 -2009) – that’s 20 years of regional furniture research articles – are now accessible to read and download for study and enjoyment. Included are all the special and themed issues of the Journal.
We hope to publish the 2010-2014 volumes shortly. The current issue (Volume 30 – 2016) of Regional Furniture is, of course, only available to RFS members, but the back issues will be published on this website after a three year delay.
The latest edition of the Regional Furniture Society Newsletter (Autumn 2014) has been published and is being sent to existing members this week.
Two editions of the Newsletter and a copy of the Journal are free to members each year. A list of past articles and contributors is available here.
Join the Regional Furniture Society here and receive your copy of the latest newsletter and Journal.