Keeping Members informed and entertained during the current crisis

Unfortunately Society events have had to be postponed or cancelled because of coronavirus risk. Here is the updated calendar which makes for sad reading.

In order to keep us up-to-date and, I hope, entertained, I have started both an RFS Twitter feed (which updates onto the front page of this website) and an Instagram feed for which I cannot locate a widget to achieve the same.  At the moment I am posting pictures mostly from our magnificent back catalogue of articles, with links on the Twitter feed to the relevant article from which the picture has been chosen.  I am supplementing this material with occasional contributions from William Sergeant’s and my Lincolnshire Chair blog.

Interesting and beautiful contributions are also invited from anyone who would like to contribute: please send photograph(s) (and brief caption explaining what, where and when) to regionalfurnituresociety@gmail.com.

Julian Parker

Website Editor

in succession to:

Ananda Rutherford, to whom our very grateful thanks for her nine years as Website Editor, and my personal thanks for handing over the website to me smoothly, with kindness, and in excellent order. I will try to maintain her high standards!

Blair Castle – update – find a copy of Country Life!

RFS members may like to get hold of a copy of the March 11th issue of Country Life:  the magazine contains a fascinating article by former RFS journal editor David Jones which dovetails an article on the building history of the castle by Mary Miers in the same issue. Members may recall that David conducted a study day of the 18th and 19th century furniture at Blair Castle in Perthshire last year, and this article reveals his recent discoveries.

In the turbulent times of the Jacobite rebellion of  the 1740s the Duke of Atholl commenced a transformation of  the castle from an antiquated fortress to a sophisticated Highland palace. He employed an impressive role-call of London and Scottish furniture makers including Thomas Chippendale. His programme was continued by successive Dukes reflecting the changes of fashion yet with the unifying strand of using unusual native woods, mostly from the Atholl Estates.

The Plantagenet (a pun on the Latin name for broom : Planta Genista) bureau-bookcase by Perth maker George Sandeman  ‘achieves unique whimsical effects’ in the use of broom-wood veneers laid in a striped pattern on an oak carcass. (photo: Country Life)

P1190883

David suggests that  the imaginative patronage of furniture makers by successive Dukes of Atholl over the course of 100 years and their use of native timbers over mahogany is unparalleled in any other house.

Jeremy Bate

 

£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.

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