English Regional Chairs
The handmade Windsor chairs are the classics of English country furniture. It is one of the English regional chairs. Historically, many designs of English regional chairs originated in the Thames Valley, for example, Buckinghamshire. It is possible that Windsor was a centre for distribution for the chairs. However, the origin of the name is not entirely clear.
Naturally, it is logical to suggest that the name Windsor chair refers to the place of origin. However, in actual fact, Windsor denotes the specific design feature. Unlike regular chairs with continuous back legs, the legs and the back of Windsor chairs go into sockets of the seat with round tenons. The seats are solid wood. Sometimes the seats have saddle shape to make them more comfortable.
Interestingly, there are many more varieties of the English regional chair. They correspond to the region where they originated, such as Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Cheshire, North Yorkshire, West Midlands and others. It seems that every English region produced its own variety of a chair – like there is a variety of English cheese in every region.
The History of the Windsor Chair
Intriguingly, it is not very clear when the first Windsor chair appeared. One of the theories is that they evolved from Welsh and Irish stick-back chairs in the 16th century. This happened after wheelwrights started to make spindles for chairs in the same way as they made wheel spokes. Most likely, the first production of Windsor chairs was in High Wycombe. However, the term “Windsor”, obviously comes from the well-known town. It is, incidentally, in the neighbouring Berkshire.
In the 18th century, the demand for a simple chair for everyday use was increasing. The first chairs had straight comb backs. However, the technique of steam bending of wood was developed. With that, we see the first bow-back Windsor chairs, such as our Stick Back Windsor chair. First Windsors were made from yew wood. Now, the most common timber is ash and oak.
Special mention should go to the Oliver Goldsmith Windsor Armchair. The famous writer, the author of “The Vicar of Wakefield”, once owned the chair in this style. His friend Dr William Hawes inherited the chair and some other of his belongings. In 1872 these items came to the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Handmade Windsor chairs truly stood the test of time. By and large, they are as popular now as they were centuries ago. They look great in any interior, especially the rustic look. Imagine them around a refectory table in a family kitchen. They are elegant and durable, perfect for a busy family. Additionally, you can mix antique Windsor chairs with new. You can also add a colourful cushion in fabric to match your curtains.
Types of Windsor Chair
The main types of Windsor chair are stick back, Georgian with the distinctive central fretted splat, fan back, comb back, continuous arm, lath back, Lancashire double bow. Additionally, these chairs come as armchairs.
The Goldsmith Windsor armchair which we talked about earlier, is characterised by the comb back. Two diagonal stays support the back. The seat is round and saddle-shaped. The arms have scrolling ends and are connected by a half-lap joint. The H-stretcher connects the turned splayed legs.
At Tudor Oak, we offer the original design armchair as well as the Goldsmith Windsor Chair without the arms.
The Main Features of H
andmade Windsor Chairs
Usually, handmade Windsor chairs will last a lifetime. The key to this enduring quality is the construction of this solid wood chair. The early chair makers did not have access to the wide selection of glues we have today. Therefore, they had to develop a unique design. The design of Windsor chairs fully utilises the characteristics of the wood. Additionally, their construction follows the rules of physics and geometry.
Traditionally, the construction of Windsor chairs starts with the seat. It is the foundation for the legs, back and the arms of the chair. Moreover, the saddle-shaped seat is extremely comfortable. This is quite unusual for a wooden chair, without upholstery.
In traditional Windsor chairs, the legs and uprights are turned on a pole lathe. The chairmakers use steam-bent pieces of timber for the back and the arms.
There are different styles of legs in Windsor chairs. First of all, t
Traditional vs Modern Windsor Chair
The Windsor chair is the staple of English country interior. Our cabinetmakers still use traditional methods for making Windsor chairs. Although traditional designs are still very popular, furniture designers always came up with new ideas.
These can be very simple modifications. For example, a natural finish gives our Richmond chair a fresh, modern look.
Alternatively, a simple tapered leg gives this Arden chair a streamlined and elegant appearance.
The Pembroke chair has a generous size seat and a reverse taper legs. The stick back of this Modern Windsor chair is curved and comfortable.
Furniture designers, who created our collection of the modern Windsor chairs, added a variety of contemporary twists to traditional designs. This way, the Windsor chairs find their way into modern interiors. In addition, our chairmakers use walnut, ash and mahogany to add comfort and strength.
A special mention should go to the Evie chair. This solid wood chair is a combination of two classic designs. The seat, the legs and the stretcher are the features of the Windsor chair. However, the back is inspired by the iconic Wishbone chair.
Have a look around our selection of traditional and modern Windsor chairs. Regardless of your taste and the style of your interior, you will find a design to suit. You can select from a number of timbers and finishes, including the natural, distressed or painted finish.