Chair of the month for May is this child’s Coronation chair.
It was made by George Arthur Lane of High Wycombe in 1953 to mark the Coronation of Elizabeth II. George worked for Parker Knoll in High Wycombe and made this chair in his own time. It can be seen in the chair galleries at Wycombe Museum.
The Coronation Chair was 3D scanned for Wycombe Museum by the volunteer and staff team at The National Paralympic Heritage Trust. The images below show the production process.
This oversized chair was made by Edwin Skull of High Wycombe in 1876. It was used by prime minister Benjamin Disraeli at the Junior Carlton Club, London, and was still in use at the club until 1978. 19 April marks the anniversary of Disraeli’s death, known as ‘Primrose Day’. Disraeli lived at Hughenden Manor, just outside High Wycombe, now owned by The National Trust. Disraeli is the first and only British Prime Minister of Jewish descent.
This chair can be seen in at Wycombe Museum, together with other items relating to Disraeli including portraits, and the carved Red Lion next to which Disraeli gave his first political speech.
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.
Following the publication of the most recent RFS Newsletter, number 78, I have updated the indexes to the Newsletter Research Articles, the Book Reviews and the Obituaries to include NL 78. I have also published 25 newsletter pieces, and 2 short notices from RFS Newsletter 72, (Spring 2020) on the relevant pages of the website. A spreadsheet containing the latest index to all parts may be downloaded here.
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.
Following the publication of Volume 36 of the Journal, Regional Furniture 2022, I have updated the indexes to the Journal Articles. I have also published Regional Furniture 2019 on the Journal Back Issues page of the website. A spreadsheet containing the latest index to all parts may be downloaded here.
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.
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.
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.
The research pieces and visit/event reports may be found here; the book reviews here; and the obituaries here.
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.
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