Exhibition: Thinking inside the box

Members will be interested to hear about an exhibition currently on show the Bodleian’s Blackwell Hall, Weston Library in Oxford. Thinking inside the box is a display of boxes, bags, and satchels used for carrying books at different times and places – inspired by the Bodleian’s recent acquisition of a book-coffer from fifteenth century medieval Paris.

The exhibition runs until 17 February 2019, Further details are available from the Weston Library Information desk: 01865 277094 or the website: Thinking inside the box

RFS 2019 Events Update

Please note that the RFS visit to Cambridge on 13th May “Pepys Library and Kettles Yard’ is now fully booked.

With this in mind, members are reminded that the annual Research in Progress event takes place on Saturday 9 March 2019 at the Conway Hall, London. Please use the One day events booking form – Spring 2019.

This year the event will focus on the regionality of chair making, with five papers spanning the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Speakers will examine a variety of idiosyncratic forms, the materials used, the makers, and their customers. Traditions commence as novelties and in many cases new research is establishing the precise origins of previously identified geographical groups. The papers will draw on a variety of research methods including fieldwork, archival sources and scientific analysis.

  • The Caqueteuse Form in 17th century Scotland – Stephen Jackson
  • Chairmaking in 18th Century Wakefield – Andrew Cox-Whittaker
  • The Rush-Seated Chair in the North West of England – Simon Feingold
  • Windsor Chairmaking in Grantham: the first fifteen years – William Sergeant
  • In Search of the Elusive Mendlesham Chair and Other East Anglian Windsor Chairs – Robert Williams

Further details about the presentations and speakers will available on the Research in Progress page.

The event will start at 10 am for 10.30am, and will finish at 4.30pm. It is open to all. The fee is £35 for RFS members, £40 for non-members and covers attendance and tea/coffee but not lunch; there are numerous cafes and pubs nearby.

A number of 50% bursaries will be available. Application forms are available here: Grant & Bursary application forms.

£4 Million Restoration: Historic House Rescue

Tomorrow, Wednesday 16th January at 9pm, More 4 is broadcasting  the first of two programmes called the £4 Million Restoration, which may be of interest to members. It documents the restoration of a Landmark Trust farmhouse in the Black Mountains, dating from c 1400. A new dating technique has been used which is claimed to work on timber previously undateable by conventional methods.

Further information is available in this article in The Guardian: newspaper: Welsh farmstead is rare medieval hall house, experts confirm and the programme details can be found here: Historic House Rescue.

Volunteer Opportunity at V&A

We have had the following request from the Department of Furniture, Textiles and Fashion at the V&A. Please respond directly to the email or phone number given below rather than to the RFS.

Would any member be interested in volunteering to help maintain the library and research files in the Furniture and Woodwork section at the V&A?  We need help rationalising our research papers, and accessioning and auditing existing books.  If you live in the London area and would be interested in offering time on a regular basis, please contact Kate Hay, Department of Furniture, Textiles and Fashion, k.hay@vam.ac.uk or 0207 942 2292.

Autumn 2018 Newsletter

RFS NL 69 Berkely cover
The latest RFS Newsletter out now and available to members. There are several interesting notes in this Autumn edition:

  • Letter from America by Daniel Ackermann
  • A Forest chair in Colonial America by Bob Parrott
  • Darvel chairs: J. McKellar, a new maker by Crissie White
  • 16th-century panelling and a canopy from the Neptune Inn, Ipswich by Liz Hancock

The Newsletter  includes two additional notes by curators discussing objects in their collections:

  • The Guardian’s chair from Leah Mellors of the Ripon Museum Trust and
  • A Warwickshire Press Cupboard, by Rosalyn Sklar at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

There are also reports on recent events, featuring the February meeting at the V&A on New thinking about 16th-century furniture, with summaries of the papers by Chris Pickvance, Megan Wheeler, Michael Pearce, Nick Humphrey and Yannick Chastang. Notes on the Glasgow conference on Charles Rennie Mackintosh include a summary of this year’s Christopher Gilbert Memorial Lecture by David Jones on Scottish vernacular sources for Mackintosh’s furniture designs.

RFS visit to two chairmaking workshops in Warwickshire, Tuesday October 30th

Now Fully Booked!

The first members’ event this Autumn is to Lawrence Neal’s workshop and Dave Green’s Sitting Firm company.

Lawrence Neal is the only remaining maker of rush-seated chairs with a direct line of apprenticeship to Philip Clissett.   Many of Lawrence’s chairs were designed by Ernest Gimson who took the Clissett tradition forward.  Gimson’s aim was to prove that well designed and skilfully made chairs can be produced by village craftsmen and be comparable with the best work of the old chairmakers. The combination of English woodland timber and rushes create a unique, light but strong and lasting chair, with an honest unassuming beauty.  Looking forward to retirement and concerned of the future of the tradition, Lawrence has, with the help of the Heritage Crafts Association, secured funding from a private benefactor for two apprentices to learn the craft before moving the workshop to the Scottish Borders.

Dave Green founded Sitting Firm in 1989 with the aim of producing fine quality traditional Windsor chairs for the retail and export markets.   As the fashion for traditional furniture declined his business has evolved to become a maker of short runs of innovative modern Windsors designed by leading international architects and furniture designers – many for specific buildings . One of his most recent commissions was to provide the chairs for the new entrance and café of Kettles Yard in Cambridge.

Cost for the day £15. Numbers are limited and available to RFS members, their guests and bursaries only. Refreshments are not included but we will find somewhere to lunch together.  Book by 15th October.  You may print off the booking form here: Booking form which must be posted (address is given on the booking form) and accompanied by a cheque.

Chippendale 300 exhibition: ‘The Paxton Style: Neat & Substantially Good’, Paxton House, 5th June to 28th August 2018

Paxton House will be holding an exhibition to celebrate Chippendale 300, The Paxton Style: ‘Neat & Substantially Good’ exhibition (5th June to 28th August 2018) showcasing new research on the Chippendale furniture commissioned by the Home family and including masterpiece loans from private and public collections including the V&A Museum and National Museums of Scotland. It will also examine the influences upon the pieces and the legacy they had on further work by the Chippendale firm and beyond. The exhibition will be free to attend and will be open daily from 11am-3pm.

There will also be a series of events and lectures associated with the exhibition held over the summer period, including:

Use the links on the events above for more information about timings and entry prices, or download the full list of events relating to the exhibition at Paxton House here.

For further information  on  events across the country to celebrate the tercentenary of Chippendale’s birth have a look at the  Chippendale 300 website.