Sunday, 24 June 2012

A quiet word from the List Mistress - ‘Lancashire’ dining chairs

Three Carved oak ‘Lancashire’ dining chairs (from an unmatched set of 11), England, late 17th century
Carrick Hill house is actually quite modest in size and visitors are often very surprised when they walk into the house to be confronted by the vision of a grand oak staircase, dark oak panelled walls and rooms filled with old English and European carved oak furniture.   This becomes even more remarkable when you hear the story of how in 1935 the Hayward’s, then on their honeymoon in England, purchased interior fittings and furniture from the  extensive demolition auction of a mid-16th century Staffordshire mansion named Beau Desert hall. 

It was around these purchases that the Haywoods  had shipped back to South Australia, that the local Adelaide architectural firm of Woods Bagot Laybourne -Smith and Irwin designed and had constructed the house they would then live in for the rest of their lives.  To complement the oak panelling in the west facing dining room the Haywards acquired a collection of so called ‘Lancashire’ carved oak chairs that date from the period 1680-1700.  There are eleven of these heavy and impressive chairs (six forming a set plus another five to complement)- they are also referred to in the furniture trade by the term ‘joined back-stool’.  Their distinctive style and carving make it possible to locate their construction specifically to the Lancashire district in England and to date them to the late 17th century although similar chairs were made at the same time in the neighbouring area of Yorkshire.

Although each chair looks similar each has its own individual carved back panel which features a decorative design of bold stylized oak leaves with motifs such as acorns, thistles or the simple 4-5 petalled Tudor rose.  Two larger carved carver style armchairs make up the suite of chairs that surround the large, simple, oak refectory table.     

Photo: Mick Bradley


Carrick Hill: A Portrait edited by Richard Heathcote, pub. Wakefield Press, Adelaide 2011
Oak Furniture; The British Tradition by Victor Chinnery, pub. Antique Collectors Club Ltd, 1986

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