Archived Events

This page is a record of previous Society events should anyone should wish to look up details of what happened when: none of these events is current.  Posts are in chronological order, oldest at the bottom and most recent at the top. The original content has been preserved and original posts removed from the Home page. Please use Ctrl + F to activate a search box on this page.

Non-RFS event: Exhibition in Glasgow: The Chair 18th Century to the Present Day


Katie Hannah of Lyon and Turnbull has invited RFS members to a private view of  The Chair 18th Century to the Present Day Exhibition on 19 March 2020 at 182 Bath Street, Glasgow.

Crissie White is providing a Darvel Chair with a new maker’s stamp, an Orkney chair and via a friend a Caithness Chair.  Laurance Black has offered a Scots Laburnum Chair and an Edinburgh Chair.

Please let Crissie know ( if you would like to attend on 19th March in Glasgow and whether you would like to meet up for lunch beforehand.

Note: the exhibition runs from 2nd to 27th March and entrance is free.

Study Day at Blair Castle , Pitlochry, Perthshire. Friday 1st November 2019

David Jones will be leading a Study Day exploring the important furniture collection in the public and private apartments of Blair Castle

The study day will be based in the Private Library of the castle, where it will be possible to scrutinise a selection of pieces and their associated documentation in some detail.

Other furniture will be studied in situ. There will be opportunity (weather permitting) to see over the extensive rococo gardens – the most northerly in Britain.

For full details see the event flyer here and to order tickets see here: Furniture Study Day

Reminder: private visit to Oak House, West Bromwich, September 5th 2019

There are still places available for the  private visit to Oak House, West Bromwich on Thursday 5 September 2019.

Oak Furniture

The Oak House Museum has a collection of fine 17th-century panelling and good oak furniture, some local, but mostly bought in the early 20th century, supplemented by items loaned from the V&A collections. Fee: £10, for members and their guests, refreshments not included.

The booking deadline has been extended to 1st September.

Please use the One day events booking form – Spring 2019 and send to the Events Secretary at

An Exhibition of Lincolnshire chairs at Alford Manor

Alford Manor

An Exhibition of Lincolnshire chairs at Alford Manor, West St., Alford, Lincs, LN13 9HT

All are invited to this exhibition which started in April and continues until October 2019.

The exhibition includes a variety of types of chair, from early 18th century Forest chairs (the earliest form of Windsor chair) to 18th and 19th century rush-seated and Windsor chairs from the county as well as some examples of cabinet makers’ chairs. Where known, the names of  the makers and places of origin of the chairs, are identified. The exhibition will be of interest to all those with an interest in regional types of chair, whether from Lincolnshire or elsewhere, including those interested in their family history who may have inherited a ‘family chair’.

The exhibition has been organised by William Sergeant who has curated two short exhibitions of Lincolnshire Chairs in recent years, and is mainly sourced from his own Museum. Such has been the success of these events that he has managed to negotiate this longer Exhibition at Alford Manor House in North East Lincolnshire.

An online catalogue was created for the items on display. Now that the exhibition has finished, the catalogue has been converted into a blog by Julian Parker and William Sergeant about Lincolnshire Windsor and rush-seated chairs; it also covers chairs from other regions which catch their eye.

Notice of RFS Annual General Meeting 2019

The 2019 Annual General Meeting of the Regional Furniture Society will be held at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday 14 July in the Regional Food Academy of Harper Adams University. It is located in Edgmond, Shropshire which is two miles west of Newport and 9 miles north of Telford.

All members are invited to attend, not just those attending the Shropshire Conference.

The Annual Report and Accounts for 2018 are available on the website on the Annual Report and Accounts page. Any member requiring a paper version should send an A4 self-addressed envelope to the Secretary requesting a copy.

Jeremy Rycroft, Secretary

The Annual Christopher Gilbert Lecture, Friday 12 July, 2019

The annual Christopher Gilbert lecture for 2019 will be given by Hans Piena on The History of the Dutch Ladder-back Chair.  We met Hans at the Netherlands Open Air Museum on our Netherlands tour in 2001.  His lecture will take place after dinner on Friday 12th July at Harper Adams University as part of the annual RFS conference in Shropshire.
There are now two lectures planned for the conference with a third possible. Currently there are still a few places available for the full conference, but if you wish to attend supper and the Hans Piena’s lecture only, please contact the events secretary, Jeremy Bate at 

Research in Progress 2019: The Regional Chair

The 2019 RFS Research in Progress meeting will be held at the Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, Holborn, London, on the 9 March.

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
The caqueteuse form is strongly associated with Scotland and is generally considered to have been imported from France in the 16th century. However, the form was not unique to France and Scotland, and nor did it adhere to a clear formula in construction, proportion and decoration. This paper will question the circumstances of its arrival and attempt to document its evolution through the period.

Chair-making in 18th century Wakefield – Andrew Cox-Whittaker
Wakefield in the 18th Century was the metropolitan centre of the West Riding of Yorkshire, a relatively small town but one of incredible importance. Frequented by huge numbers of the gentry and middling classes, the production of furniture made in the town was to be distributed through this network to houses throughout Yorkshire and beyond. This talk looks at the tracing and recognising of Wakefield made furniture, the influence of pattern books on its design and how the series of interchanging business partnerships of the furniture trade in the town (which were to develop from the 1770s) were to change. Using archival research, early photographs and analysis of materials, we will look to see if diagnostic features can be discovered in Wakefield made chairs or whether as a whole it is simply a ‘northern’ style.

The rush-seated chair in the North West – Simon Feingold
This paper will introduce some of the most common designs found in the North West. The industrial revolution caused an influx of people into the area. The wide variety of designs found in the region often share several common features, and hopefully these will be shown to be useful in determining, or at least helping to justify, a regional provenance. An argument will be made for some possible reasons why there is such a diverse variety of designs. An attempt will also be made to discuss the differences found between the vernacular, or rather locally made chairs, and those best considered as cabinet maker’s chairs.

Making Windsor chairs in Grantham: the first fifteen years – William Sergeant
All previous authors writing on Lincolnshire Windsor chairs state that the tradition started in the Thames Valley and spread north. The speaker’s recent research can find no evidence to support that claim; indeed he has shown that the earliest recorded Windsor chair maker in the world came from a remote village in Lincolnshire. This talk will reveal how the start of the tradition in Grantham was mainly due to one lady who employed several journeymen and had four children to support.

In search of the elusive Mendlesham chair and other East Anglian Windsor chairs – Robert Williams
Drawing on documentary evidence, this paper will examine how these chairs received their name, establish who made them and their geographical extent, and ask how they were originally used.


Stephen Jackson is Senior Curator, Furniture and Woodwork, at National Museums Scotland. His published research has addressed diverse subjects including vernacular interiors, emigrant cabinet makers in America, issues in conservation, and the patrons of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. His acquisitions for the National Museums range from the Venetian Baroque to Scottish Modernism, names such as Chippendale, Pugin and Cottier, and, all importantly, anonymous vernacular items.

Andrew Cox-Whittaker is a second generation antiques dealer.  He has worked with Wilkinson’s auctioneers for nearly twenty years and with T L Phelps Fine Furniture Restoration for the last fourteen.  He currently sits on the executive committee of the Chippendale Society as website editor and acting honorary conservator. He has a keen interest in regional furniture studies and has recently become an Attingham alumni.  His research into Wakefield furniture has been supported with a Regional Furniture Society bursary.

Simon Feingold read chemistry and materials science at Manchester Metropolitan University and, following an apprenticeship with a professional antique restorer, established his own workshop. This eventually specialised in regional furniture conservation with an emphasis on historic finish preservation. Clients include local museums and collectors. He has continued his studies at West Dean College, the Rijksmuseum, and with Adam Bowett and Gudrun Leitz. He is an active member of the RFS and has been a keen student of North West furniture for nearly thirty years.

William Sergeant graduated from Newcastle University with an engineering degree in 1975. Several years later he returned to the family farm from where, over the last twenty years, he has been ideally placed to collect and research vernacular furniture. He is the proprietor of the Lincolnshire Chair Museum, posting images and some of his research on the FLICKR photo-sharing website. His article ‘Joseph Newton, Windsor chair maker of Fenton, Lincolnshire’ appeared in Regional Furniture, XXXII, 2018. Twitter: @willsergeant

Robert Williams, although originally trained as an antique dealer in Cambridge, has worked as a furniture conservator and restorer since 1980. His initial research was into furniture making in Cambridge, some of which was published as ‘A Cambridge Family of Furniture Makers and the Furnishing of the Masters’ Lodge, Trinity College, Cambridge’, Furniture History, XII, 1976. This research has broadened out to cover East Anglia. This has included being a regional co-ordinator for the Dictionary of English Furniture Makers (1986), for which he wrote a group of smaller biographies of East Anglia makers. His most recent work was the Introduction for the 1801 Cabinet & Chair Makers’ Norwich Book of Prices, Regional Furniture, XXX, 2016. He is a founder member of the Regional Furniture Society.

Research in Progress 2019: The Regional Chair

The 2019 RFS Research in Progress meeting will be held at the Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, Holborn, London, on Saturday 9th March.

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 are available here on our new Research in Progress page.

The event will start at 10 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. To book please use the form on the Events page of the RFS website.

A number of 50% bursaries will be available (application details are available on the Grants & Bursaries page). The deadline for applications is 19th February

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.


The Olive Collection sale at Bonhams, New Bond Street, London, Thursday 31 January 2019
Bonhams Oak Department is delighted to invite Regional Furniture Society members to
a private pre-view of The Olive Collection, on Thursday 24 January, between 11am and

Dates for your diary: 2019 RFS Events

Members organising their 2019 diary may wish to note the RFS Events Programme for the forthcoming Spring / Summer.

Full details and booking forms will appear in the Spring newsletter in late January.

Saturday 9 March 2019 Research in Progress: The Regional Chair, Conway Hall, Central London

Tuesday 26 March 2019  – A visit to a member’s collection in Soho, London

Monday 13 May 2019 – The Pepys Library and Kettles Yard, Cambridge

Wednesday 10 – Sunday 14 July 2019 – The Annual Conference, Shropshire.

Thursday 5 September 2019 – A private visit to Oak House, West Bromwich.

RFS visit to two chairmaking workshops in Warwickshire, Tuesday October 30th 2018

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.

Event: The Rush Seated Chair, Marchmont House, 14 – 15 September 2018


A date for your diaries:

RFS members will be interested to hear about a two day symposium considering  the rush seated chair, to be held at Marchmont House, Berwickshire this September.

This symposium will investigate the rush seated chair in all its facets, from the material and the ways in which the rush seats were made, to the widespread variety of vernacular types. Discussion will lead to some of the talented architect/designers whose names became associated with their revival. The scope of the symposium will cover all contexts, from the urban to the rural; from the country house to the cottage.

Full details of the event and the programme can be seen here Programme, and tickets can be purchased via the Eventbrite website here: The Rush Seated Chair – A celebration of past, present and future.

RFS 2018 Conference and AGM to go ahead in Glasgow

The Society is delighted to confirm that our annual conference and AGM will go ahead, with only minor alterations to the program and venues, caused by the recent fire at the School of Art.
We expect to visit all planned venues (including the famous Willow Tea Rooms on Sauchiehall Street), but not of course the school itself.
We look forward to hearing from the architects, specialist contractors and makers involved with the recent restoration, some of whose work was safely stored off-site when the fire took place.
Please note that the Conference is now sold out.

Notice of Annual General Meeting 2018

The 2018 Annual General Meeting of the Regional Furniture Society will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday 1 July in the Glasgow School of Arts Students Hostel Building, on the fifth floor. It is in Blythswood House on West Regent Street, Glasgow.

All RFS members are invited to attend, not just those attending the Glasgow Conference.

The Annual Report and Accounts for the year ending 31st December 2017 are available on the website here; any member requiring a paper version should send an A4 self-addressed envelope to the Secretary requesting a copy.

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.

Chippendale 300: 1718 – 2018


During 2018 Thomas Chippendale and his legacy are being celebrated as widely as possible, both by encouraging greater public awareness of his genius and the glories of 18th century craftsmanship, and by demonstrating how the same spirit animates today’s designers and makers.

The Chippendale 300: 1718 – 2018: A celebration of Britain’s greatest furniture maker project has formed partnerships with institutions and historic houses across the country and created a programme of exhibitions and events to celebrate Thomas Chippendale’s tercentenary.

Highlights include an exhibition at Leeds City Museum, co-curated by our own Adam Bowett, and James Lomax, Curator of the Chippendale Society: Thomas Chippendale: A Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design, 1718-2018 (9 February – 9 June 2018, Leeds City Museum). Adam will be offering RFS members a guided tour of the exhibition in March (see the Events page for how to book).

The full press release for Chippendale 300 can be downloaded here: Chippendale 300 press announcement

RFS Spring/Summer Events 2018

The new events listings and booking forms are now available on our Events pages and in the latest copy of the Newsletter.

Details of the 2018 Research in Progress event, a trip to Shandy Hall and the RFS Annual Conference, this year to be held in Glasgow, are included, as well as a visit to Leeds for the exhibition Thomas Chippendale: A Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design, 1718-2018, which will be accompanied by the exhibition’s co-curator Adam Bowett.

Research in Progress: New thinking about sixteenth century furniture, 24 February 2018 at the V&A, London

The 2018 RFS Research in Progress meeting will be held at the V&A Sackler Centre on the 24th February.

This year the event will focus on the sixteenth century, which saw great change in furniture types, usage, construction and decoration. Although a substantial body of material survives, the importation of furniture, the influx of immigrant craftsmen and the recycling of fragments complicates study of the field. The five papers presented will address a variety of furniture types and influences, based on close study of surviving pieces.

  • Early marquetry technique in Europe – Yannick Chastang
  • Imported cypress chests in the ‘long’ sixteenth century – Nick Humphrey
  • The French furniture-making school in sixteenth-century Edinburgh – Michael Pearce
  • Some problems in studying sixteenth-century furniture – Chris Pickvance
  • Early Elizabethan chairs and chests at Sizergh Castle – Megan Wheeler

Further details about the presentations and speakers are available here on our new Research in Progress page .

The event will start at 10 am for 10.30am, and will finish at 4.45pm. It is open to all. The fee is £34 for RFS members, £39 for non-members and covers attendance and tea/coffee but not lunch, which can be purchased in the V&A café.

A number of 50% bursaries will be available (application details are available on the Research in Progress Booking form 2018). The deadline for applications is 5 February 2018.

Clive Edwards to give the 2017 Christopher Gilbert Lecture, 3:00 p.m. Saturday 21 October at the Geffrye Museum, Shoreditch

Clive Edwards, Emeritus Professor of Design History, Loughborough University, will deliver this year’s Christopher Gilbert Lecture: The upholsterer and the retailing of domestic furnishings 1600–1800. Clive will welcome questions and discussion after his lecture while tea is served. Cost: £10 for members and guests.

To make a day of it an informal visit is planned to the Charles Dickens Museum,  Bloomsbury, the family home of Charles and Catherine Dickens in London, where the author wrote Oliver Twist, The Pickwick Papers and Nicholas Nickleby, and where he first achieved international fame as one of the world’s greatest storytellers. The house, in a late Georgian terrace, with faithfully re-created interiors, including many items of his furniture is where his three eldest children were born and where he entertained many famous guests. Lunch may be taken nearby, or members may prefer to lunch at the Geffrye Museum, which is only a short bus ride away.

The Christopher Gilbert Lecture booking form

Exhibition: Take a Seat! An exhibition of Lincolnshire chairs, Louth Museum, 13th September to 28th October 2017

Members will be interested to hear about Take a Seat! An exhibition of  Lincolnshire craftsman-made chairs which will be held at Louth Museum from 13th September to 28th October 2017.

The extraordinary history of chairmaking at the beginning of the nineteenth century in Lincolnshire has only recently been revealed by vernacular furniture historian and long standing member of the RFS, William Sergeant.  He has shown that the scale of windsor chair manufacture was unique in the UK and was far greater than was previously thought. During this period hundreds of thousands of chairs were made in workshops in Grantham, Sleaford, Boston, and then later in Stamford and Bourne. They were distributed and sold all over the Midlands and the North. Their style is distinct to the county and examples can still be found today in good condition, in auctions and antique shops.

Previous to this, in the eighteenth century, the simple rush seated ladderback chair had superseded the stool in country households. Lincolnshire produced large numbers of these chairs, with the centre of manufacture around Louth, Spilsby and Alford, extending later to Boston and Spalding. It is rare for good examples to have survived to the present day.

William Sergeant has been collecting and researching Lincolnshire’s chairs and is recognised as the country’s leading authority on the subject.  On the evening of Tuesday 10th October he will be giving a talk on the subject, and on Saturday 14th October  there will be an open day chair surgery: the aim of which is to try and find well provenanced local chairs, in the hope of establishing exactly which patterns were made in the towns of Spilsby, Alford, Caistor and Louth.

Date for your diary: Furniture History Society Annual Symposium, Saturday 6 May 2017

ANNUAL SYMPOSIUM 2017 publicity flyer

The Furniture History Society’s forthcoming Annual Symposium,


will be held on Saturday 6 May 2017.  Full details here: FHS ANNUAL SYMPOSIUM 2017 .

All welcome. Tickets for non-FHS members can be booked via

Day school: ‘House and Home’ 25th March 2017

RFS members may be interested to know that there are still places available for the  Yorkshire Vernacular Buildings Study Group’s day school on  Saturday 25th March, looking at how Yorkshire houses were used and furnished in the seventeenth century. The venue is the Headingley campus of Leeds Beckett University.

Speakers include Regional Furniture Society members Peter Brears and Peter Thornborow.
Further details about the event and booking details may be found on the events page of the YVBSG website.

RFS Events 2017: A Study Day in the Lake District, Tuesday 21st March 2017 – booking now!

The schedule for 2017 is now available on the Events page and the first RFS event of 2017 will be A Study Day in the Lake District held on Tuesday 21st March 2017. Booking for the Study Day is now open  – please apply by 1st March. 


View of Town End Farmhouse by 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 Town End 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 hope  RFS members with specialist knowledge of Lake District furniture will be available to share their knowledge with us. 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). Download the Booking Form here.

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

Visit to The Whitechapel Bell Foundry is now fully booked

This visit is now fully booked.

New events and visits will be listed on the website in the New Year!

We had planned a visit to the historic Whitechapel Bell Foundry, whose history began in the reign of Elizabeth I, for next autumn. However, we have just heard that the company will shortly close the premises in east London that it has occupied since 1738. We have been offered this date in February instead.

Possibly England’s oldest limited company, the foundry’s bells have rung out around the world. They include Big Ben, the largest bell ever cast by the firm, as well as the 1752 Philadelphia Liberty Bell, the bells of the Armenian church in Chennai, south India, the Bell of Hope that commemorates victims of the 9/11 attack and innumerable bells in the village churches of England.

On our visit, guided by the managing director, we will discover the materials and techniques of casting bells in bronze and be surrounded by medieval examples undergoing restoration. We will also be able to handle the very popular handbells which the company export throughout the world.

Jeremy Bate, Membership Secretary

Antique Metalware Society celebrates 25th anniversary with an online exhibition

The Antique Metalware Society, with a world-wide membership, is devoted to increasing the knowledge and promoting the appreciation of base-metal objects of all kinds and historical periods.


‘Touch Base: A Visual Celebration of 25 Years’ is a web-based exhibition in which over 100 objects have been assembled to show the diversity and appeal of the base metals and their uses. The range of exhibits includes candlesticks, cauldrons, nutcrackers, snuff boxes, fire grates and many unusual and rare objects. Copper, brass, bronze, iron and Britannia metal all feature and each object is accompanied by photographs and a detailed explanatory text.

Dr Christopher Green, Chairman of the Antique Metalware Society, sums up the exhibition ‘ this is the metalware people have lived with day to day, at home, at work and at leisure. It’s a wonderful record of the use to which base metals have been put: the practical, the ingenious and sometimes the strange and curious.’

Click here to visit the exhibition:

More information is available from Dr Geoff Smaldon, Secretary: or

New events for Autumn 2016


The programme and booking form for forthcoming RFS events are now available in the latest edition of the Newsletter and online on the Events page. The main Autumn event is a tour of the London Charterhouse. In addition, the Tools and Trades Society have invited RFS members to join them at a Technical Day at the Kelham Island Museum and Ken Hawley Collection Trust in Sheffield –  further details here.

Exhibition of Lincolnshire Chairs, 8th – 18th September 2016


Members will be interested to hear about an exhibition of the largest collection of Lincolnshire windsor and rush-seated chairs to be held at Belton House this September. This will be a fascinating chance to learn about fine local chair-making and the best local craftsmanship, with several talks by William Sergeant from the Lincolnshire Chair Museum.

There will be free entrance on Saturday 10th September to coincide with the National Heritage Open Day.

Event: Wool, War and Wonders: The Story of Stow

wool war Wonder flyer

Members may be interested in this event at St Edward’s Hall, Stow on the Wold on Saturday 20th August. The organisers, Stow Civic Society, would be very pleased to hear from anyone who has regional furniture with a close connection to Stow on the Wold and would perhaps be willing to loan it for the display.

Contact Simon Clarke via email: or through the website:

Conference: The British Antiques Trade in the 20th Century – A Cultural Geography, Temple Newsam House, Leeds , April 14th & 15th, 2016

This two-day conference is an opportunity to hear about the AHRC funded 32 month research project, the Antique Dealer Project, and is focused on the history of the British Antique Trade in the 20th century. The project is a collaboration between the University of Leeds and the University of Southampton.

The conference programme includes a selection of academic papers from the project team, together with talks from well-known figures from the world of antiques, and high-profile antique dealers. There is also an ‘In Conversation’ session, with a selection of the oral history interviewees involved in the research project, as well as some facilitated discussion group sessions based around issues in the history of the antique trade.

Alongside these academic papers, talks and discussion groups, there are also expert-led guided tours around our venue, Temple Newsam House, together with specialist sessions on antique dealer archives and museum object sessions as part of behind-the-scenes tours.

For booking information use this link: booking

For a full conference programme use this link: programme

Events for Spring – Summer 2016

The Regional Furniture Society events for Spring-Summer 2016, in London, Yorkshire, Cumbria and Lincolnshire are now available to view on the up-dated Events page. Booking forms are also now available online for 1 day events and the 2016 AGM and Conference weekend.
The Mounsey chair at Tullie House Museum, Carlisle

The Mounsey chair at Tullie House Museum, Carlisle

Christopher Gilbert Lecture with Dr Todd Gray – this Saturday, 7th November 2015

The Christopher Gilbert Lecture is being held at the Geffrye Museum, London, this Saturday 7th November  at 2:30pm. Dr Todd Gray MBE, will be presenting his research on `Local sensibilities in bench end carving in Devon and the West Country, 1480 – 1650′,

Todd Gray is Research Fellow at Exeter University; he is currently completing a project funded through the Pilgrim Trust which identifies all of the ancient bench ends in the churches in the six counties of South West of England. His lecture explores the use of design, principally Gothic and Renaissance, by English and continental craftsmen amidst the changing religious considerations of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The cost will be £10 to members. For tickets please contact the Events Secretary –

Talk by Peter Thornborrow in Halifax, 20th and 26th October 2015

RFS member and architectural historian Peter Thornborrow is giving talks in October that will undoubtedly be of interest to our northern based members. His subject is “The 17th century Oak Furniture and Vernacular Houses of the Pennines – a fascinating story of regional differences”.

He will be speaking at the Halifax Antiquarian Society, Halifax Central Library, Northgate, Halifax, 7:15 for 7:30 pm on Tuesday 20th October and again on the same topic, on Monday 26th October, to the Halifax Antiques Society, 7:15 for 7:30 (a small fee is payable at each venue).

RFS Events Autumn 2015

There are two new events on the schedule for this Autumn.

Treasures of the North West, Friday 16 October

Visits have been arranged to Browsholme Hall and Stonyhurst College, both Grade I listed halls dating predominantly from the Elizabethan era. An optional visit to another North West property will be arranged for the morning of Saturday 17th, if there is interest. The cost will be £35 to include coffee and light lunch; if there is sufficient interest an additional visit will be arranged to another local property on the Saturday morning.

For full details please see the full listing on the Events page

Christopher Gilbert Lecture, `Local sensibilities in bench end carving in Devon and the West Country, 1480 – 1650′, Dr Todd Gray MBE,  7 November 2015

Dr Todd Gray is Research Fellow at Exeter University;  his lecture explores the use of design, principally Gothic and Renaissance, by English and continental craftsmen amidst the changing religious considerations of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The lecture will be held at the Geffrye Museum London and the cost is £10 to members.

For full details please see the full listing on the Events page

Research in Progress day, Saturday, May 23rd – places still available

There are still places available for the Research In Progress day, which is being held on Saturday, May 23rd. The venue is Rippon College Cuddesdon, Oxford, OX44 9EX, 10 – 5pm

Rippon College, Colin Bates [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Rippon College, Colin Bates [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Some of the speakers are already well-known to members of the Society but others are researchers we are hearing from for the first time.  Subjects will include Chris Pickvance’s ‘What is a Kent chest’,  Andrew Cox Whitaker’s work on the ingenious Mr Elwick and Wakefield cabinet makers and  David Bryant on Isaac Newton’s spinning wheel.  Alan Moore’s research on fine furniture making in the 18th century and Robert Williams’ on timber supplies during the Napoleonic War will address materials and techniques, and recent research on chairs and chair makers will be represented by Andrew Honey, Tony Howe and William Sergeant, on chairs from Kent, Surrey or Sussex, East Anglia and the north east midlands.

The day will also include visiting the original buildings of Cuddesdon College, designed by G E Street in the 1850s, which still retain some of the furniture he designed.

The cost of the day is £30 per head and includes coffee, lunch and tea. Please contact the events secretary on or using the online booking form here.

Exhibition: Make Yourself Comfortable, 28 March – 23 October 2015, Chatsworth House

RFS members may be interested in this invitation “to experience Chatsworth in a new way; to take a seat and make yourself comfortable.”

Screenshot 2015-05-05 18.49.11

Chatsworth is “turning to contemporary furniture designers to provide a completely different experience for our visitors”.  A number of works have been specially commissioned for the exhibition by established and emerging designers including a collaboration with students at Sheffield Hallam University.

There is also an opportunity to  join the curator, Hannah Obee, for a Make Yourself Comfortable tour on 24 April and 26 June.

For more information, see here:

Masterclasses in Sitting, High Wycombe, April 17th 2015

150317 chairs for arching pt2e

RFS members are invited to attend a free series of presentations by manufacturers, designers and historians to discuss High Wycombe’s famous history of bodging and the Windsor Chair.

Masterclasses in Sitting is a commission for the new Wye Dene development in High Wycombe. Taking as the starting point High Wycombe’s rich history as the centre for furniture production, public works proposes a project which uses ‘sitting’ as a way of relating. Connecting the new Wye Dene estate with High Wycombe, its past and future.

The talks will take place on  17th April 2015, 6pm at the Wrights Meadow Centre, Wrights Meadow Road Wycombe Marsh, High Wycombe, HP11 1SQ . No RSVP is needed, the event is free.
About the Speakers:
Speakers on the evening will be furniture historian Dr Bernard ‘Bill’ Cotton, artist craftsman Stuart King and professor in furniture Jake Kaner. Each will be giving a short presentation on them will be reflecting on the Chair industry the Windsor Chair in particular. public works will use the opportunity to discuss the proposal for the forthcoming Chair arch for High Wycombe 
Dr Bernard ‘Bill’ Cotton is a furniture historian who has pioneered the study of vernacular furniture in both the UK and in Countries where the British settled. He has travelled widely, often with his wife Gerry, to record the regional traditions of furniture made for the homes of working people , over a forty year period. His extensive archive is a major resource of design and social history information and his collection of some four hundred English regional chairs is now gifted to the Geffrye museum. His published work includes ‘The English Regional Chair’ (ACC. 1990 ).   More recently he has completed his major work  ‘Scottish Vernacular Furniture’ (Thames and Hudson. 2008  ) which for the first time identifies the chair and other furniture designs made there.
He was co founder, with Christopher Gilbert, of the Regional Furniture Society and is presently the society’s Emeritus President.
Jake Kaner is professor in furniture at Bucks New University. He has been involved with documenting the furniture industry through the curation of the High Wycombe Furniture Archive. Funding awarded form the arts and humanities research council supported the digitisation project which captured 16,000 images and text from the archive. The material covers the High Wycombe manufacturers, Ercol, Gomme (G-Plan) and Skull. The website that disseminates the material has been highly successful receiving an average of 100,000 hits per month since its launch in 2009. Currently Jake is working to digitise the William Birch archive in partnership with the Wycombe Museum. This material illustrates design books for art furniture that was made for Liberty’s of London between 1890 and 1910. A further project involving the designs of Ib Kofod-Larsen, a Danish designer who worked for G-Plan in the 1960s, involves creating computer based models of furniture that was never put into production.  Jake is also a trustee for Wycombe Heritage and Arts Trust.
Stuart King was born in the Buckinghamshire village of Holmer Green in 1942, and played as a child in the local Beech woods. The countryside and the trades and traditions of those that shaped it over centuries have always fascinated him and influenced his work.
Stuart spent a lifetime researching, recording and collecting anything about the rural past and today is recognised as a well-known artist craftsman, demonstrator, international lecturer and photo-journalist. He is still actively recording traditional crafts, local landscape and history via photography and video and occasionally appears on TV.

Exhibition: An Abiding Standard, Royal Academy of Arts, 25th February – 24th May 2015


241. “The Chair Maker”, engraving, 1944 [215 x 154 mm] Private Collection. © Stanley Anderson Estate

Stanley Anderson RA (1884-1960) was a key figure in the revival of engraving in the 1920s, best known for his series of prints depicting England’s vanishing rural crafts. ‘The Chair Maker’, very probably of Jack Goodchild, one of the last of the Chiltern makers, is typical of his work to be shown in an exhibition, An Abiding Standard, at the Royal Academy of Arts, running from 25th February – 24th. May. For more information see the RA website here.
Admission is £3, or free to holders of tickets to other current exhibitions at the RA including the magnificent Rubens show. A catalogue raisonne will be published to coincide with the exhibition.

Events for Spring 2015 and AGM and Conference Details

Ahead of the publication of the Spring Newsletter, details of some the upcoming RFS events are now available on the Events page.

In April members have been invited to visit Tim Phelps Fine Furniture Restoration workshop and the Research in Progress event will take place at Ripon College Cuddesdon, near Oxford in May.

DSC02614a [640x480]

Arrangements for the AGM and conference are underway and the particulars can be seen in full here: Conference and AGM 2015. Please note that the conference will take place on the first weekend in July – slightly earlier than usual.

As usual, please direct any enquiries or bookings to the Events Officer – or use the online form here.

Exhibition: Then and Now, The London College of Furniture

This year  the CASS School of Design is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the ‘The London College of Furniture’ 1964-2014 with an exhibtion.  The ‘Then and Now’ exhibition will be open to the public from the 28th November 2014 until 14th January 2015. For further details see here: 

Volunteer Opportunity: Furniture Department at the V&A

The Furniture Department of the V&A  is looking for a long-term volunteer willing to assist on a regular basis with the ongoing, computer-based work of documenting the Furniture collection: scanning and transcribing written records, editing digital images, and adding them to the Museum’s databases, under supervision in the Furniture department offices at the Museum.

If you are interested in this role please contact Nick Humphrey: / 0207 942 2436

The 16th Annual Frederick Parker Lectures and Dinner – Thursday 16th October 2014

The 16th Annual Frederick Parker Lectures and Dinner takes place this year on Thursday 16 October.

There are to be two lectures. The first is given by Sarah Medlam, furniture historian and former Deputy Keeper of the V&A’s Department of Furniture, Textiles & Fashion and President of the RFS. Sarah’s lecture is entitled Investigating Luxury: the Writing cabinet of Augustus III of Saxony

In addition Clive Stewart-Lockhart FRICS, FRSA, Antiques Roadshow celebrity, and auctioneer and Managing Director of Woolley & Wallis in Salisbury, will be speaking on Betty Joel: Glamour and Innovation in 1920’s and 1930’s Interior Design.

For full details of the event and a booking form please see here: Frederick Parker Collection Annual Lecture 2014 or for the Frederick Parker Collection website events page see here:

Reminder: Chairmaking in Lincolnshire, Monday 22 September

There are still places available for the Chairmaking in Lincolnshire event taking place near Newark on Monday 22 September. Full details are on the Events page here.

Please contact to book or use the booking enquiry form here. Further details of the venue will be sent on receipt of your application.

The cost is £30 per person and will include lunch. If you are aware of members who might be interested to attend please do pass on these details.

2014 Christopher Gilbert Lecture

A quick reminder that the 2014 Christopher Gilbert Lecture:  ‘A Day at Home in Early Modern England’ will be given by Dr Catherine Richardson, and held at the Geffrye Museum, London, on Saturday 29 November 2014 at 2.30pm.

Catherine Richardson is Reader in Renaissance Studies at the University of Kent. She and Tara Hamling, Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History and Fellow of the Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham, have a book forthcoming with Yale University Press about how the ‘middling sort’ used domestic spaces and objects in early modern England.  They are developing new methods for the study of domestic material culture and examining how people experienced their living spaces and furnishings – from bed chambers and warming pans to apostle spoons and chamber pots.  Their research will be the subject of her lecture and their website can be viewed here:

The Christopher Gilbert lecture is open to all and will be relevant to those with an interest in interiors or buildings, and how they are studied.
Cost: £10 for members; £12 for non-members. Contact or use the booking form here.

A full listing of previous years’ lectures can be seen here.

Chicago and Milwaukee, Friday 3 October – Saturday 11 October 2014

Crab Tree Farm

It is still possible to join the Society’s visit to Chicago and the Milwaukee area in October.  Flight arrangements are being made individually but we will meet in Chicago on Saturday 4 October, staying in a city centre hotel for 3 nights, then by coach to Crab Tree Farm for a day visit and on up to Milwaukee, where we stay for a further 2 nights before returning to Chicago for one last night and free day.  This last night is optional.

This trip will not be wall to wall regional furniture.  It includes Crab Tree Farm, the museum formed by John Bryan with outstanding collections of English and American furniture and one of the best collections anywhere of American Arts and Crafts furniture and decorative arts, so this is certainly a highlight for those seriously interested in furniture; and the Chipstone Foundation, a private collection with extensive first-class collections of fine American furniture and early English pottery, the Foundation is run by Jon Prown, our erstwhile American Secretary and a leading expert in American furniture history.  In the Milwaukee area we plan to visit two further collections in historic houses: one is a lovely old house with a fascinating personal collection but a visit here will depend on the owner’s health and this may not prove possible. The other, Kelton House Farm, is a relocated colonial Massachusetts house with a collection of early colonial American furniture mainly from New England.  Apart from these we will be seeing great 19 and 20th century architecture in Chicago, a city with a character and energy all on its own, superb art and decorative arts in the Art Institute, Frank Lloyd Wright’s studio and Unity Temple, and a quirky artist’s house and eclectic collection at the Roger Brown House. There will be plenty to do and see but if you are hoping for 6 days of vernacular furniture this trip will not deliver.

The cost of accommodation, coach travel, entrances etc will be £835 per person, based on two persons sharing a room.  There is a supplement for a single room.  This price will reduce if a few more people join the tour.

As an indication re flights, at the moment return Virgin Atlantic flights direct to Chicago from Heathrow seem to be about £750; non-direct flights about £650.

If you would like further information, please contact Polly Legg (

Exhibition: British Folk Art at Tate Britain 10 June – 31 August 2014

A new exhibition opened at Tate Britain last week.

From the Tate Britain website:
“Discover the extraordinary and surprising works of some of Britain’s unsung artists in the first major exhibition of British folk art. Steeped in tradition and often created by self-taught artists and artisans, the often humble but always remarkable objects in this exhibition include everything from ships’ figureheads to quirky shop signs, Toby jugs to elaborately crafted quilts…Folk art has often been neglected in the story of British art: by uncovering this treasure trove of folk art objects, this exhibition asks why.”

For more information, booking tickets and listings of associated events see here:

RFS Chicago 2014, Friday 3 October to Saturday 11 October


Images by J. Crocker, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

We can now confirm that the proposed trip to Chicago and the surrounding area is going ahead from Friday 3 October until Saturday 11 October. The itinerary can be seen on the Events page and for further details please contact

Exhibition: Pots and Tiles of the Middle Ages, Sam Fogg, until May 16th 2014

Pots and Tiles

Readers may be interested to know about a fascinating  exhibition currently on at the Sam Fogg gallery in London,W1:  Pots and Tiles of the Middle Ages.  This rare functional pottery was described many years ago by W. B. Honey as the some of the most beautiful pottery in the world.

The  collection of largely English and French items (including at least one pot from Dorset and a large number of tiles from a church in Somerset) has been assembled by Maureen Mellor of Oxford University over the last 20 years and is displayed at eye level with no glass barrier. You can view a selection of the exhibits here.

Entry is free and there is a fine illustrated catalogue at £20, see here. The show runs until May 16th 2014.

Exhibition: William Kent – Designing Georgian Britain, Victoria & Albert Museum, 22 March – 13 July 2014


If you haven’t already seen it, the V&A’s current exhibition William Kent – Designing Georgian Britain, will be of  some interest.

Experience the world of William Kent, the most prominent architect and designer in early Georgian Britain and explore how his versatility and artistic inventiveness set the style for his age when Britain defined itself as a new nation and developed an Italian-inspired style.” For more information see here.

To complement this major design show we have organised a morning visit to Chiswick House, for members on Thursday15th May. See the Events page for further information and booking details.

Chicago and Milwaukee Tour, October 2014

Plans for a tour to the Chicago and Milwaukee areas are making progress, with the help of Jon Prown, our former American Hon Sec and Director of the Chipstone Foundation.  It promises to be a fascinating tour taking in one America’s most amazing cities and spectacular countryside right over the autumn ‘fall’ when the maple leaves should be at their best.  Full details are being worked up but it looks as though it will be around 8 days in early October for a travel and hotel costs of around £1,200 pp, plus meals and other expenses.

Some of the attractions in Chicago, apart from the extraordinary architecture and lakeside setting, include the Art Institute of Chicago, a world-class museum with great decorative arts collections and a famous series of miniature period rooms; a number of late 19thc town houses with stunning aesthetic style décor; and of course Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio.  Just outside Chicago we will visit John Bryan’s home and museum at Crabtree Farm, one of the most amazing private museums with wonderful American and English furniture, Arts and Crafts collections and active workshops for artists and craftsmen.

In the Milwaukee area visits will include the Chipstone Foundation to see high quality American period furniture and a great collection of English delftware; private collections in nearby houses of early American and English furniture and decorative arts; Old World Wisconsin, a living history museum; and Ten Chimneys Foundation, the Scandinavian-style country home of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, famous acting duo of the 1920s, filled with their furniture, art and personal possessions.

So there should be plenty of variety, much of interest and quite a lot of spectacular!  Polly already has a list of those who have expressed interest; any others should get in touch with her.  Further details and booking forms will follow.
 – David Dewing (

This weekend: “The life and times of Thomas Chippendale” Friday 21 February – Sunday 23 February 2014, Maddingley Hall, Cambridge

We have just been notified about this fascinating course, being run by the University Of Cambridge Institute Of Continuing Education this coming weekend:

The life and times of Thomas Chippendale
Thomas Chippendale’s role in the development of furniture will be studied in the context of other designers and cabinet-makers working in the period 1740 to 1780. His work in the rococo taste and then in the neo-classical style for Robert Adam will be considered along with his standard design book of 1754: The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director.

The course will be taught by Martin Beazor. Martin is an antiques dealer and the Managing Director of his long-established family business, John Beazor Antiques in Cambridge. Martin has also lectured for the University of California, NADFAS and many antiques clubs and societies. He endeavours to convey not only the facts but also the feel of this fascinating subject. Martin has also been a member of the vetting Committee of the British Antique Dealers’ Association annual Fair. He is now a Fellow of the RSA.

This course will take place at Madingley Hall, an elegant 16th century country house three miles west of Cambridge that has been the home of ICE for much of its 140-year history. Accommodation within the Hall is available for the duration of the course weekend if desired, and meals in the grand dining hall –  presenting an excellent opportunity for further discussions with fellow students – are included as part of the cost.

The fee for this course is £240. Accommodation is available in one of Madingley Hall’s comfortable en suite bedrooms for the course weekend if required; visit the website for full details:

Date for Your Diary: Furniture Surgery, Sunday June 1st 2014

Robert Prior Windsor chair Bill and Gerry Cotton plan to hold one or more furniture surgeries in 2014 in their home town of Cirencester for members who have furniture items, including chairs, which they can bring (or photographs of larger pieces), and who would like to hear them discussed, and hopefully learn more about them.  It is also an opportunity to share your pieces with others, and to enjoy meeting fellow enthusiasts whilst expanding your knowledge, and hearing other views as well. Our own archive and library will be available, and, time permitting, our own household collection of regional furniture can also be examined as well. If those attending will send a photograph of their item(s) ahead of the event, it will give time for further research to be done.

The surgery will be held in the Cirencester saleroom of Moore Allen, whose Director, Phillip Allwood, has generously offered to open its doors to our group, and to provide catering facilities and access to objects in their collective sale for discussion as well.


This event are intended to be fun and instructional. There will be no fee for the day surgery, but a charge of £20.00 per person to cover the cost of the administration, lunch with wine, tea, and other refreshments, will be made.  Bona fide students will be admitted free of all charges.

Cirencester is a lovely old town, and if you wish to stay overnight, we can suggest suitable central accommodation. An excellent train service connects to nearby Kemble station.

Please e-mail us if you would like to attend.
Dr.Bernard Cotton FSA,  10 Mill Place, Cirencester, GL7 2BG

A loan exhibition: Metalwork for furniture 11 to 16 November 2013

Roderick Butler's exhibition will feature a rare catalogue of 1834 from which this is taken Roderick Butler with some of his country dealer's workshop assemblage

As part of the Honiton Antiques Festival, long-standing RFS members Roderick & Valentine Butler are putting on an exhibition showing a country dealer’s workshop collection of 18th – 19th century handles, castors, hinges and bolts, including many examples with makers’ marks. Brassfounders’ catalogues will also be on view. The exhibition is on for one week only from 11 to 16 November 2013.

Any fellow RFS members prepared to make the pilgrimage to Honiton are assured of a warm welcome. The full programme for the week, shown by week and by day, is given on the website

For further information please email or call 01404 42169.

RFS visit to the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, early 2014


The Rijksmuseum has recently re-opened after a major re-display of their collections.  An RFS visit has been proposed and is currently being arranged for January or February 2014, with the help of Paul van Duin, head of furniture conservation at the museum.  In addition to the galleries we will also visit the conservation workshops.  It is proposed that members will make their own arrangements for travel and accommodation.

If you would like details once they are ready, email

East Anglian Chairs at UEA

UEA Image

The University of East Anglia celebrates its 50 years of existence with an outstanding exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre, UEA, Masterpieces: Art & East Anglia.  Among the range of works, from archaeological finds to sculpture and paintings, there is a group of East Anglian chairs, including Mendleshams (from Ipswich Museum) and good examples of the hollow nail seating characteristic of the region, assembled by Jason Gathorne-Hardy for the Alde Valley Festival. The show continues until 24 February 2014. For further information see here:

Frederick Parker Foundation Annual Lecture and Dinner – Tuesday 15th October

chair-collection-2 chair-collection-one
(Images by kind permission of the Frederick Parker Foundation)

Readers may be  interested to know that the 15th Annual Frederick Parker Lecture and Dinner will take place on Tuesday, 15th October 2013.  Susan Stuart is to speak on Gillow Chairs and Fashion, 1750-1850 and Dr John Cross will also speak on Authentic Antique Designs; Frederick Parker and Co 1900-1939.

The lecture and dinner will be held at the Institute of Physics, Portland Place, London, W1, 6.30 until 10.00. For further information on what promises to be a very enjoyable evening and to book tickets see here

Saturday 12 October: 13th Annual Christopher Gilbert Lecture and visits

Saturday 12 October: 13th Annual Christopher Gilbert Lecture, John Allan, BA, MPhil, FSA, Breton Woodworkers in Early Tudor Devon, Colebrooke, near Crediton, Devon.

This year’s lecture is being given in a beautiful part of Devon and our lecturer, John Allan, will also lead some associated visits. Members who attended our annual conference in Exeter in 1993 will remember John, who was then Curator of Antiquities at Exeter Museum (1984-2004), lecturing and leading our visits in the city. He was Project Manager for Exeter Archaeology from 2004 to 2011, has served as Joint Editor of the Journal of the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology, Member of Council of the Society for Medieval Archaeology, Member of Council of the Society of Cathedral Archaeologists, a Trustee of the Devon Historic Buildings Trust, and Editor (1984-1997) of the Devon Archaeological Society and is currently Archaeologist to the Dean and Chapter of Exeter Cathedral and Archaeological Consultant to Glastonbury Abbey.

The first visit of the day will be to the Church of the Holy Cross at Crediton to look at an early 16th century French, possibly Normandy, chest; we will then move to the village of Colebrooke for the lecture and a visit to the parish church. After lunch we will visit nearby churches at Lapford and Coldridge, finishing with tea in the Church Room at Sampford Courtenay to see the 16th/17th century, morticed into the floor, oak table and benches.

Chris Pickvance has invited two Breton visitors to join us for the day – Marguerite Le Roux-Paugam, a specialist on Breton furniture, and her husband Charles Le Roux, an archaeologist who edits the archaeological journal for west France and whose father had a large collection of early Breton carved panels.

Fee: £40 to include coffee, lunch and tea. Please note, overnight accommodation should be booked independently if required.

Sunday 13 October: ‘The Art of the Woodcarver’, An Exhibition, Marwood House, Honiton, Devon, on view from 10am-4pm

To compliment this year’s Christopher Gilbert Lecture, Roderick & Valentine Butler will remount a loan exhibition in their showrooms at Marwood House, Honiton, ‘The Art of the Wood Carver – Medieval to 19th Century’. The exhibition was previously displayed as part of the Honiton Antiques Festival in November 2012. It includes the Herbert Read Workshop Collection together with loan pieces from private collections.

This event relates to the work seen on Saturday 12th; if you wish to attend both events there is no charge for the event on Sunday. If you wish to book for Sunday only there is a £10 charge towards RFS administration.

To book either or both of these events or for further information please contact

2013 Exhibition – Mary Queen of Scots

The exhibition ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ currently on at the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh may be of interest to members as it contains a number of items of early furniture and panels (including two of the ‘Stirling heads’). The chest described by RFS member Aidan Harrison in his article in Regional Furniture 2012 is also included (take a torch!)

For further information see here:

2013 New Exhibition – The Three Sisters

Katie Abbott is a longstanding RFS member and greenwood furniture maker. She has been making bespoke chairs and other furniture from greenwood for nearly 30 years, using timber mostly from her own Essex wood.

Katie has a new exhibition, along with her two equally talented sisters, Caroline and Rachel at 54 The Gallery, Shepherd Market in London. The Three Sisters show runs from Wednesday 31st July to Saturday 3rd August 2013. For further details see here:

2013 Annual General Meeting

This year’s AGM is being held on Sunday 14 July at 10am in the St Trinnean’s Suite in St Leonard’s Hall at the Pollock Halls of Residence, Edinburgh University.  It is free to all members.

Symposium at the Victoria and Albert Museum


Furniture: making and meaning

Friday May 17th 2013
Hochhauser Auditorium, Sackler Centre
10.30 – 17.30

To celebrate the opening of the V&A’s new Dr. Susan Weber Gallery of Furniture, this one-day symposium investigates furniture materials, making and design. Looking at the relationships between materials, techniques, and a wider culture of use, the symposium will address questions of technological development, adaptation, trade and cross-cultural exchange.

Papers from leading scholars and curators will be accompanied by two live-feed sessions in which objects from the V&A’s collection are examined in detail by experts. The day will finish with a panel discussion in which leading contemporary designers discuss the relationship between design and making. Speakers include Adam Bowett, Carolyn Sargentson, Christine Guth, Christopher Wilk, Joris Laarman, Julia Lohmann and Gareth Neal.

£25, £20 concessions, £10 students
Book online via the V&A website

or call 0207 942 2211
The programme is subject to change without warning.

13th Annual Christopher Gilbert Lecture, Saturday 12 October 2013,
John Allan, BA, Mphil, FSA, Breton Woodworkers in Early Tudor Devon.

This year’s Annual Christopher Gilbert Lecture will be given by John Allan. Currently  Archaeologist to the Dean & Chapter of Exeter Cathedral and Archaeological Consultant to Glastonbury Abbey, he has served as Joint Editor of the Society for the international journal Post-Medieval Archaeology, Member of Council of the Society for Medieval Archaeology, Member of Council of the Society of Cathedral Archaeologists, a Trustee of the Devon Historic Buildings Trust, and Editor (1984-1997) of the Devon Archaeological Society. For twenty years (1984-2004) he was Curator of Antiquities at Exeter Museum, and then Project Manager of Exeter Archaeology until 2011. He has long been a friend to the Regional Furniture Society; members who attended our annual conference at Exeter in 1993 will remember his lectures and guided tour of the Cathedral and city. He has been an avid fan of Brittany for many years and this has led him to research the subject of his lecture.

The lecture will be in the morning and there are plans visit some churches in the afternoon. For further information please contact