Antique Windsor Chairs
The Windsor chair and the straight slat-back and banister-back chairs were introduced during the time of Queen Anne in the early 1700's, being the chairs of cottagers and country people. We first hear mention of Windsor chairs in 1724 when a chair of the type was said to be used by Lady Percival at Hall Barn in Buckingamshire.
Windsor Armchair, 1756.
Beech and elm, with painted decoration.
A rare antique chair in that it still has its original painted decoration.
The name "Windsor" is said to have been used in honour of George III who saw some while sheltering from the rain in a cottage and remarked on their attractiveness. However the name appears in auction catalogs before George III even came to the throne.
The most distinctive feature of these chairs is their solid, saddle shaped seat which serves to hold the rest in place. The main types of Windsor chairs are the comb back or stick back, the hoop back, the Chippendale splat back, the comb and splat, the Hepplewhite splat back, and the wheel back.
The frame and legs of Windsor chairs is normally of beech wood, and also ash, birch, or yew - country craftsmen would use any wood that was near to hand. An important chair making centre for this type of chair was High Wycombe in Buckingamshire where an ample supply of timber was to be found in the beech woods of the Chilterns. For the solid seats of Windsor chairs elm was normally used.
Windsor chairs were most often made use of in farmhouses, cottages and inns, and also as garden chairs, although it is known they graced the libraries of Cannons, at the home of the Duke of Chandos, in 1725, and the Bodleian in Oxford, 1766.
Usually made in a fairly simple country style design Windsor chairs would also sometimes be seen to adopt certain features of furniture design associated with London fashion in any particular period. For example from the mid 18th century a central splat was often introduced in "Chippendale" or "Hepplewhite" style, and from the 1740's some such chairs were even made with cabriole legs, incongrous looking and ill suited in construction terms to join with the seat block, and also incorporated Gothic style piercing in the back. Generally, in antique American Windsor chairs, the splat back was never used and the chairs retained their rustic, primitive feel.