Saturday, 27 April 2019


Ladder back side chair with bar top, from Leicester house clearance, same front stretcher as No. 2, No. 3 & No. 7, with the same implicit constructional markings. Probably from South Lincolnshire.


Ladder back side chair with original rushing; this pattern is attributed to the Ashton/Green family from Spilsby. Very rare to find unspoilt seat; such fine rushing is likely to have been imported from Holland.


Ladder back side chair with very old rushing, provenanced to the Sleaford area, so could have been produced in the workshop of Hugh Mason before 1825, or by his wife, Anne, who succeeded him.


Rush seated ladder back side chair by unknown maker, purchased from Lincoln auctioneer. Other examples are known so could have come from the workshop of John Todd of Caistor. Before 1862.


Rush seated side chair with a provenance to Market Rasen, mid 1800’s, with its original rushing. Unusual in the fact that it has vertical spindles incorporated into the back support.


Lincolnshire rush seated ladder back chair, this time with five ladders and cabriole front leg. This type of chair is associated with the towns of Louth,Alford and Spilsby.


Rush seated, ladder back side chair with provenance going back over 100 years to the Boston area. The most common Lincs rush chair, probably made by the Spikins family of Boston and Spalding.


Ladder back armchair with re-rushed seat. No provenance but similar patterned chairs attributed to Lincolnshire, mid 1700’s


Rush seated ladder back chair with the same provenance, and from the same house, as chair No 7.


1980s faithful copy of original Lincs rush seated, ladder back armchair, by Rob Ley, who lived in Spilsby at that time. This chair is downstairs at Alford, not in the main exhibition room.


Windsor armchair, signed T SIMPSON BOSTON on the edge of the seat, so produced in the workshop of Thomas Simpson, approx. 1810-1825, in Boston.


Windsor side chair with hoop back and slightly smaller proportions, signed MARSH SLEAFORD.


Windsor side chair with hoop back support, signed MARSH SLEAFORD.  The chair in this exhibition is the left-hand chair in the photo.


Windsor armchair, signed BRAYBOURN MAKER, so made in the workshop of John Bray of Bourne. Notice that it is of identical pattern to No. 27. It is the only known signed chair by Bray.


Windsor armchair, signed HUBBARD GRANTHAM, so made in the workshop of Richard Hubbard, who was the next person to make Windsor chairs in Grantham, after Roger Taylor.


Windsor armchair, signed G WILSON GRANTHAM. George Wilson was the son of John (chair No. 26) whose workshop produced large amounts of chairs in the mid-Victorian period in Grantham.


Windsor side chair, very faintly signed TAYLOR GRANTHAM, of more delicate proportions when compared to chair No 27. I had this chair for many years before I realised there was a maker’s mark on the surface of the seat towards the back.


Windsor armchair with comb back support, signed G WILSON GRANTHAM.


Windsor side chair, signed WILSON GRANTHAM.


Windsor armchair, unsigned.


21 Windsor kitchen armchair, unsigned.


Windsor side chair with comb back support, unsigned.


Windsor armchair with comb back support, unsigned. The chair in the exhibition is the middle chair in this picture.

The last four chairs have one thing in common, namely the distinctive front leg design, and so were probably made in the same workshop. They usually appear in the auction houses in Stamford or in the south of the county. I would attribute them to the workshop of James Taylor of Stamford.


Windsor side chair, signed CAMM GRANTHAM, produced in the workshop of Thomas Camm in Grantham about 1820-30.


Windsor armchair - signed MARSH SLEAFORD, so made in the workshop of Thomas Marsh, or by his son James, between 1810 - 1860 in the town of Sleaford. All components made of ash wood.


Windsor side chair, signed WILSON GRANTHAM, so turned out by John Wilson of Little Gonerby. A hoop back design with a pierced splat made out of yew wood. Chairs by this maker are rare.


Windsor armchair, very faintly signed TAYLOR GRANTHAM, so manufactured in the workshop of Roger Taylor (1800-01) or by his wife Sophia (1801-1810) who succeeded him, in Grantham.


Windsor arm chair with the stamp of SHIRLEY. Undoubtedly by William Shirley of Caistor, made in large quantities during the mid 1800’s, though stamped examples are rare.


Windsor armchair signed TAYLOR GRANTHAM. This is the only chair of this pattern that has ever been recorded and is unusual for two reasons. Firstly, it has very few turned components, like a cabinet maker would produce, and secondly the design is what I would expect to be produced in the Thames Valley region. I have included in this exhibition as it demonstrates that there are probably other design of chairs that were produced by the Lincolnshire chair makers and as yet undiscovered and unrecorded.


Arm chair on rockers of the same pattern as No. 31, assumed to have been made in Caistor by the combination of William Shirley and John Shadford. Mid 1800’s.



Free standing arm chair with spindles in the back support. This pattern of chair is shown in the drawing book of John Shadford of Caistor, which is kept in the Lincoln Archives.  Some of the pages from that notebook are reproduced in this article  Shadford Shirley & the Caistor Workshop by Bernard Cotton.


Lincolnshire rush seated chair made by Robert Ley for Alford Civic Trust


Windsor side chair, signed TAYLOR GRANTHAM, comb back support and spindles.


Cabinet maker’s armchair, from Lawrence Shaw Antiques, Horncastle. Fabric seat.


Cabinet maker’s sidechair, from Horkstow via North Lincs auction, re-rushed seat. 


Cabinet maker’s armchair, from Batemans Auctioneers, Stamford. Re-rushed seat. These last three chairs, No. 34, No. 35 & No. 36, have every component made out of elm wood; pattern of chairs is not specific to Lincs but to Eastern coastal counties. Even the smallest town in Georgian times would have had a cabinet maker’s workshop, producing all manner of domestic furniture including these elegant chairs. (1780-1830).


Early Windsor chair, appeared at my Spilsby open chair surgery in May 2017, has a provenance that goes back several generations to the Boston area. Ash wood construction, mid 1700’s.


Very early Windsor chair, of a type known as a "Forest Chair", found in Newark. Could have been made in the workshop of Joseph Newton in Fenton, Lincs. (1725-1735). All components of ash wood.

Article by William Sergeant in the Journal of The Regional Furniture Society

Rob Ley (see chair no. 32) is making a replica of this chair using traditional tools.

Robert Young Antiques have recently put a chair with very similar seat & legs & slightly different under arm supports & cresting rail on their Instagram feed.

Joseph Newton 1676-1752
Fenton, near Newark, Lincolnshire

b. 1676. m.(1) Ann or Anne Mapletoft b.1672 , All Saints, Fenton, 2 November 1701, 2d, 3s. m.(2) Elizabeth b. 1680. d. 1752 buried 1 December 1752 aged 76, carpenter.

Joseph Newton has the distinction of having placed the earliest known advertisement for Windsor chairs in an English newpaper, the Stamford Mercury, on 1 July 1725.

Stamford Mercury - Thursday 01 July 1725 Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

"This is to give Notice to all Gentlemen and others that have desire to furnish themselves with New-fashion'd Windsor Chairs of the best sort, may be furnished by Joseph Newton, the Maker, living at Fenton in the Parish of Beckingham, Lincolnshire, for Miles from Newark upon Trent in Nottinghamshire, and there is a chair to be seen at the White Hart in Newark for a Sample, and one at the Angel in Grantham; He proposes to deliver them at these Places at 7s. 6d. per Chair, and at Lincoln at 8s. and with as much speed as possible, after Notice given."

In 1727 John Brown advertised 'At the 3 Chairs and Walnut Tree at St. Paul's Churchyard all sorts of Windsor garden chairs of all sizes painted green or in the wood' (A. Heal, London Furniture makers 1660 1840, Batsford, London (1953).

Joseph Newton placed a further advertisement in the Stamford Mercury on 8 May 1729. 

Stamford Mercury - Thursday 08 May 1729 Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
"This is to give Notice, That Joseph Newton of Fenton in the County of Lincoln, 4 Miles distant from Newark upon Trent, maketh all sorts of Windsor Chairs, the Price of the single Chairs 7s. 6d. a Piece, the Seat-two's, Seat-three's and four's all 7s per Seat and are to be sold at Mr. John Fox's Gunsmith in Grantham, at Mr Taylor's at the Reign'd Deer, and at Mr John Farrow's both in Newark, and at Mr John Shakelton's in Nottingham, and Gentlemen that has a Desire of any of the said Chairs, may be furnish'd at any of the above said Places they may go by Water from Newark to Nottingham, Gainsborough or Lincoln for Three-pence a Seat. I have furnished a great many Gentlemen, Gardeners with them, and they are esteem'd above those that come from London both for Ease and Fashion."

No further advertisements are known before 13 July 1754 (and weekly for 6 more weeks), when William Partridge of Banbury advertised his new shop.

Jackson's Oxford Journal 13 July 1754 Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

"NOTICE is hereby given, THAT WILLIAM PARTRIDGE Hath opened a SHOP near the White Lion in Banbury, with all Sorts of the most fashionable Furniture in the Cabinet Way:
AS Chairs, Drawers, Tables, Bureau's, Glasses, Stands, Waiter, &c. where (or at his House in Adderbury) all Gentlemen and others that please to favour him with their Commands, may depend upon being serv'd at the lowest Prices, as well as in any Part of this Kingdom, By, 

Their very humble Servant 

Likewise all Sorts of Carpentry, Joiners Work, and Carvings; viz. Brackets, Umbrello’s, Temples, Pavilions, Pallisadoes, Fences, Garden Seats, Windsor and Forrest Chairs and Stools in the Modern Gothic, and Chinese taste; and all other Things made in Wood that are not to be had in this Part of the Country of any Person but himself."


Early Windsor chair without any known provenance. However, similar chair appears in Thomas Crispin’s book (pub 1992) on p. 63. Crispin always referred to these as Lincolnshire chairs.


Windsor side chair, unsigned, but identical to others signed TAYLOR GRANTHAM, hoop back support with spindles and splat.


Windsor side chair with comb back support, signed MARSH SLEAFORD, elm seat with the rest of ash wood. This pattern of chair was made by most Windsor chair makers in the county.


Unsigned comb back side chair with typical Thames Valley features - included in the Exhibition to demonstrate some of the different design characteristics of a chair from another region.



On p. 291 of David Knell's 1993 book English Country Furniture, is an image of two rush seated armchairs, described as North Country, possibly Lincolnshire. A copy of this page can be seen in a perspex holder on chair No. 8 in this Exhibition. The remarkable feature about these two chairs is that they are both incised with initials and dated, one as 1739 and the other as 1742. William Sergeant recently happened across an identical chair while visiting a house in a village close to Spilsby. He was told that the chair had been in the same house for the last 65 years and was originally purchased in 1953 from a local house clearance sale. This chair is shown above along with the detail of the top ladder with the date of 1755.

William Sergeant gave a talk in Alford Manor House on the 5th June 2019 which may be watched here.  The questions and answers afterwards may be seen here.