Spring Newsletter 2018

Members will by now have received their copy of the latest RFS Newsletter, featuring reports of recent Society events as well as a number of short illustrated articles and queries on regional furniture. The Newsletter is published twice a year, and is one of the benefits of RFS membership.

NL Spring 2018 coverThe copy date for the next Newsletter is 31 July 2018. Please send MS Word files (without embedded images) and separate high-resolution images (jpegs or tiffs), preferably by email, to liz.hancock@glasgow.ac.uk.

 

British and Irish Furniture Makers Online

Readers will be interested to hear about this fascinating new project –  British and Irish Furniture Makers Online (BIFMO). The project is a collaboration between the Furniture History Society and the Institute of Historical Research with the goal of developing and making accessible the history of furniture as a material, cultural, social and economic subject of study.

From the press release:

Conversation piece, a cabinet maker’s office. Oil Painting, England, c. 1770 (© Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Image No. 2006BF4151-01).

The Institute of Historical Research and the Furniture History Society are delighted to announce that British and Irish Furniture Makers Online  is now freely available to view online at https://bifmo.data.history.ac.uk.

The initial phase of the project has seen the construction of the BIFMO database comprising information on English furniture makers drawn from the definitive 1986 guide to the trade, the Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, 1660 – 1840, as well as from the London Joiners’ Company apprenticeship and freedom records, 1640-1720.

The database will contain detailed biographies of British and Irish furniture makers from the sixteenth century to the present day, providing a rich resource for historians of social, economic, political, art, furniture and material culture, as well as to collectors, connoisseurs and the art market. In addition to extending the chronological dates of the database’s biographical data, our aim is to broaden the contents of BIFMO to visual materials, as well as the reproduction of a wide range of primary sources.

The second phase of the project is undertaking new research to explore key historical questions surrounding the furniture making industry, including a case study on the role of British and Irish women in the nineteenth century: where they lived, their occupational roles, how they sold their wares, and their clientele. In addition, ongoing development to the BIFMO website will introduce new ways of engaging with the data as we enhance the information in the Dictionary with new scholarship published since 1986.

BIFMO is an ongoing project, with separate but integrated research, resource-creation, public engagement and training strands. If you would like more information about the project, or the database, or getting involved, please do get in touch: http://bifmo.data.history.ac.uk/contact

Journal back issues (II)

Given the longstanding storage problems of back issues of the journal, and bearing in mind that all journals up to the year 2009 have now been digitized (with 2010 to 2014 to be added shortly), it was decided at the last Council meeting that the bulk of all back issues up to the year 2009 should be destroyed. A working stock of the more recent editions will be retained for sale. If any member would like old copies of the Journal up to 2009, please contact Jenny Cowking at publications.rfs@gmail.com before the end of October.

Save the Judges’ Lodgings Museum in Lancaster

The Judges’ Lodgings museum, along with several other Lancashire museums, has been scheduled to be shut down in Spring 2016. The government budget cuts for local councils has forced Lancashire County Council to take drastic measures including closing down local facilities and putting thousands of people out of work.

Of particular concern to RFS members is the antique Gillows furniture, which is held at The Judges’ Lodgings and is the world’s largest Gillows and Gillows and Waring collection.

From the petition:
“The Gillow furniture collection is a jewel in the nation’s crown. If the Judges Lodgings Museum closes, this would mean the dispersal of the finest permanent collection of Gillow furniture in the world, housed yards away from where it was manufactured hundreds of years ago. If you care about our British history and heritage you must unite to stop the closure of this important museum.”

Please take the time to sign the online petition here:
https://www.change.org/p/lancashire-county-council-save-the-judges-lodgings-museum-in-lancaster

 

A Trinity of Trinities

RFS members who attended the July conference will recall the almshouses at Castle Rising which miraculously retain their original furniture. They were built by Henry Howard Earl of Northampton, an antiquarian with an interest in architectural design, who was a key figure at the heart of the Jacobean establishment and who brokered James VI of Scotland’s succession to the throne of England.
The December 10th edition of Country Life magazine includes an article A Trinity of Trinities. This year three historic almshouses  celebrate the 400th anniversary of their founders death. John Goodall explains the origins of their creation. 

Newsletter research articles – a complete list

Christopher Claxton Stevens has assiduously recorded every research article published in the RFS Newsletter since the first issue in 1985. This not only provides the Society with a comprehensive list of the shorter articles that have been produced over the years, but also a very useful finding aid for those accessing the Newsletter via public library collections. You can see the list here: Newsletter research articles.

Many thanks to Christopher for all his hard work in producing this document and very impressive to see the depth and diversity of RFS research over the years.

From the Country House to the Laboratory

MAY 14 COVER.indd

This week’s issue of Country Life magazine (May 14th) includes an article by RFS  journal editor Adam Bowett.

From the Country House to the Laboratory celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Furniture History Society which was founded in 1964 and he suggests some ways that the society may advance. Adam explains how research into furniture history and its related fields (largely through innovations from across the Atlantic) has moved forward in leaps and bounds over the succeeding years and how neglect by the FHS of the exciting field of vernacular furniture studies led to the formation of the Regional Furniture Society twenty years later.

He illustrates his arguments with photos of the evolution of period room displays at the Geffrye Museum in recent years and examples of scientific timber analysis of a 13th century coffer from Westminster.

Whilst promoting the work of both furniture societies, he ends his article by challenging the FHS to revisit it’s original aims and appears to suggest the unification of the two societies. Do get a copy before it disappears from your newsagent’s shelves on Tuesday.

Did you know about the RFS Bursaries?

Each year the RFS awards a  small number of research bursaries to current members. These  are designed to encourage and support research projects related to regional furniture, with a view to publication.

Recent projects that have been funded are:

  • Dendrochronological dating of the ‘domed’ chest at Fordwich Town Hall, Kent. Awarded to Chris Pickvance.

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  • Research and recording of spinning wheels in the Victoria & Albert Museum and the London Science Museum. The grant was for travel, accommodation, photographic materials and photocopying. Awarded to Valerie Bryant.

There are also a number of small conference and study day bursaries. These are intended to encourage interest in the subject and support early-career professional members and students, particularly those who are new to the subject, to attend the annual RFS conference or an RFS meeting. For further details see the Bursaries information page and application form here.