RFS events 2016 for webForthcoming RFS Events for 2017

One day event booking form     2017 Conference Booking form

A Study Day in the Lake District, Tuesday 21st March 2017


View of Townend, Troutbeck, the Lake District. Image (c) Jeremy Bate

Until the discovery of the Lake District by the Romantic Movement in the late 18th century this was a remote corner of England with a unique furniture history. Our day starts at the Armitt Museum, Ambleside, founded in 1912 to preserve and share the cultural heritage of the Lake District.

The Armitt’s collection includes the Great House Press from Troutbeck dated 1634, which local RFS member and Lakes furniture specialist Frank Wood rescued, restored, and described in the 2014 journal. Frank, our guide for the day, hopes to borrow further interesting pieces from outlying sites for our benefit. The Armitt Museum also holds important collections of Beatrix Potter’s early natural history watercolours and paintings by Kurt Schwitters.

After lunch nearby we will travel the short distance to Troutbeck, one of the least disturbed villages in the area – largely of 16th and 17th c buildings – for a private visit to Townend farmhouse (NT) the home of the Browne family for over 400 years. Town End retains its original plain oak furniture preserved and ‘improved’ by the last George Browne in the late nineteenth century and is the only accessible farmhouse in the Lake District with a quantity of original vernacular furniture. We will end the day with tea at the Old Post Office in the village.

Maximum: 30 members Cost: £50 including lunch and tea (no reduction for NT members)

Members may choose to stay over and visit the highly regarded Jerwood Centre Museum at Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage at Grasmere, Beatrix Potter’s cottage Hill Top at Sawry or Blackwell, the Arts and Crafts House, overlooking Windermere.

Oak Bark Tannery, Devon, Friday afternoon, May 19th 2017

The family run site of J. & F.J. Baker, Colyton, Devon, has been a tannery since Roman times and is one of only two remaining in England. Oak bark tannage is a fourteen months sustainable process, protecting the natural fibres of the hide, favoured by fine shoemakers and stables for its quality. We are invited for a private tour of the tannery by the owner, Andrew Parr.

Maximum: 25 (members only) Cost: £10. Refreshments for the day are not included. One day event booking form

A Private Collection in East Devon, Saturday 20th or Sunday 21st May 2017

An invitation to handle and discuss a collection formed over sixty years, of 17th and 18th century furniture and accessories. The owners will take a lead on the objects and there will be plenty of time for leisurely discussion. Coffee, Lunch and tea will be provided.

A maximum of 8 members on each day. Cost £30. For the Saturday visit, preference will be given to members attending the Tannery visit the previous day. A splendid excuse to spend a weekend in East Devon! One day event booking form

Annual Conference: Coastal Suffolk, July 5th.-9th 2017


View of Leiston Abbey, Suffolk. Image (c) English Heritage

The July conference will be based at the 14th c Leiston Abbey, near Aldeburgh. Our Friday and Saturday programme will focus on the collections of furniture in merchants houses at Ipswich and Great Yarmouth whilst the separately charged Wednesday and Thursday’s events are more wide ranging in their content. Members are free to select which days they wish to attend and tailor their accommodation accordingly. Content of the event may be subject to change, however applicants will be kept informed of significant changes.

The accommodation at Leiston Abbey is limited to 40 members and many of the rooms share bathrooms. However the value-for-money offered to single members, the ideal location and the historic interest of the buildings led us to choose this site for our conference over more commercial alternatives. For those who book after all rooms are taken or who prefer to stay off-site, we can offer a list of recommended accommodation nearby, from B&Bs within walking distance to local inns and smart hotels at Aldeburgh. Contact the Events Secretary for more information about accommodation. The area also enjoys a wonderful variety of dining choices. 2017 Conference booking form

Wednesday July 5th  

Sharing cars. In the morning, we will visit two inland churches en route to our destination: St Mary, Earl Stonham, ‘a virtuoso display of Suffolk woodwork’ (Simon Jenkins) and St Mary’s Dennington, which contains amongst other treasures Suffolk’s finest parclose screens, a medieval bestiary of carved bench ends and a curious Sunday School sand table. The café at Yoxford is recommended for an independent lunch and the chance to visit Andrew Singleton’s Suffolk House Antiques, before our afternoon tour of Glemham Hall, near Woodbridge. After tea in the garden we intend to visit the church of St Mary, Ufford celebrated for its famed 18ft telescopic font cover with original colouring. Cost £35, excluding lunch but including afternoon tea.

Thursday July 6th  

Travelling by coach from Leiston Abbey (for those already in the district). In the morning, we are invited for a private visit to Wingfield College and Church. ‘Wingfield is a study in medieval upward mobility’ (Simon Jenkins).

We intend to lunch at nearby St Peter’s Hall, a half-moated manor house c1280, before an afternoon visit to an RFS member’s private collection of Suffolk chairs nearby followed by a late afternoon visit to Walpole Old Chapel, a 16th c village house enlarged into an independent chapel in the 17th century. Cost £ 55 including morning coffee and lunch.

Friday July 7th


Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich. Image by Velvet – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.

By coach to Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich to study the collection of furniture donated to the museum in the early years of the 20th century and the superb panelling rescued from demolished local houses. We will lunch overlooking the docks before a short walking tour of historic Ipswich including the Ancient House and the 17th c Unitarian Chapel returning to Leiston for dinner in the abbey’s Guesten Hall.

Saturday July 8th

By coach from Leiston to Yarmouth. Our morning will be spent at the Merchant’s House on the quay, the Row house museum and the Tol House Museum. After lunch on the quay we will visit the Time & Tide Museum devoted to the history of the fishing industry.  Dinner in Guesten Hall.

Sunday 9th July

Sunday’s programme follows the usual pattern of the AGM followed by the furniture Surgery and then a buffet lunch.

Cost of the main conference from Friday morning to Sunday lunch, including travel by coach, entry to museums, all meals, wine with supper and B&B accommodation at Leiston Abbey: £295 per person whether single or double occupancy. Additional nights at Leiston Abbey cost £44 per person per night B&B.

Cost of the Friday- Sunday conference, non-residential, to include all meals and wine, but not breakfast: £195 per person.

For those with time to linger I will arrange a special Sunday afternoon visit to the Red House at Aldeburgh.  There will be an additional fee charged on the day for this event.

2017 Conference Booking form

A private collection in the Midlands, Saturday 5th August 2017

A morning visit to Lichfield Cathedral and nearby Samuel Johnson’s Birthplace Museum,  Lunch is not included, but there are many opportunities in the vicinity.

Saturday afternoon: A private visit to a collection of 17th and 18th c English and Welsh Oak and Country Furniture, brass, iron and ceramics purchased in the later part of the 20th c from Central England dealers.

Maximum 25, members only. Cost £18 per head for the day. One day event booking form (We may need to stagger arrival times to the private collection).

A diary note: Heritage Open Day, Sept 9th 2017. A national scheme where many unusual buildings not normally open to the public are accessible.

Alien woodwork in two Bedfordshire Churches, Saturday 23rd September 2017

The fashion for Squarsons with antiquarian tastes importing carved woodwork from post-Napoleonic Europe reached its zenith at two fascinating but very different Churches on the Cambridge/Bedfordshire border – the remote St John at Cockayne Hatley and St Leonard’s in the model village of Old Warden. The contents of these two churches form a significant part of Charles Tracy’s book, Continental Church Furniture in England.

Cost £10, for members and guests. Refreshments are not included but we may lunch at Old Warden. One day event booking form

See booking forms  (One day event booking form  &  2017 Conference Booking form) for more detailed information of events and costings. These forms are also available to print off. NB. RFS Events are only open to paid-up members of the society.

Jeremy Bate, Events Secretary

For further information and enquiries about RFS events and bookings please contact: