Of the two chairs illustrated here, one is considerably less in seat height than the other, and this is intentional. The two may be an original pair, in which case, Fig. 242 is the chair of the lady, Fig. 243 that of the man; here, as a revolt against Commonwealth traditions, illustrated last.
Fig. 248. Date about 1660.
Fig. 250. Oak Chair. - The Sussex type. Date about 1670. - St. Alban's Abbey.
Fig. 251. Oak Chair. - The Wilts and Somerset type. Date about 1660. - St. Alban's Abbey.
Fig. 252. Oak Chair. - The Hertfordshire type. Date about 1660. - Messrs. Gregory and Co.
If upholstery was rare before 1645, it was still more so during the regime of Cromwell. By the term is meant, not the covering of a seat or back with a leather or fabric, but the padding of the seat itself with horse-hair, tow or similar material. The simple Cromwellian chair, of which Fig. 244 is a good example, usually has a seat and back made by straining a thick hide over the framings, without any attempt at padding. It is also worthy of note that the arm-chair of the seventeenth century was usually made for female use; the wearing of a sword, which was not usually left in the ante-room, according to the polite custom of the next century, precluding their use by men. Thus Fig. 245 is a man's chair, the back low, to rest the arm upon when the more comfortable sideways position was adopted. This chair has a covering of coarse woolwork applied over the original leather. It serves to illustrate the use of spiral-turning prior to the Restoration, and in an oak chair.
Two more of these oak Commonwealth chairs, with seats and backs of thick cowhide, are shown in Figs. 246 and 247. They show the usual type of chair of their period.
The two child's chairs, Figs. 248 and 249, just bridge the Restoration period. The bobbin-turning still persists in the first, with stretcher-rail on the ground in the Commonwealth manner. In the second an extensive use is made of the interlacing guilloche. If the evidence of pulpits can be relied upon, this is a Lancashire chair.
Fig. 253. Oak Settle Table. - Date about 1650. Victoria and Albert Museum.
Fig. 254. Oak Chair Table. - Date about 1660-5. - Victoria and Albert Museum.
In Figs. 250, 251 and 252, three chairs are illustrated, all of the first years of the Restoration, which may serve to explain the Sussex, the Wilts and Somersetshire, and the Hertfordshire types. In the latter must be included Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and part of Bedfordshire. Oxfordshire does not appear to have possessed a chair-type of its own at this date.
All three of the chairs, shown here, are high and narrow in the back, but this form became more general after 1660, and led the way for the tall slender chairs of the short reign of James II. The Sussex type, which includes western Kent and part of Hampshire, has a strongly-framed back, made to simulate panelling. The top rail is broad, but rarely with side-overhang. It is crested with a shaping cut from the solid wood of the rail itself. The upright styles of the back are narrow, and the arm is usually of greater breadth, sometimes cut over the panel moulding, but more often overhanging outside, and rounded off to make a neat junction with the back. The seat-board is cut in between the square of the legs, projecting very slightly or not at all. The rosetted interlacing guilloche is a favourite detail in the coast towns of Sussex and Kent, but is not typical. The turned baluster in vase-form, as in this chair, is indicative of a post-Restoration date, and is more frequently found in Sussex and Home County pieces than in those from other localities.
Fig. 255. Oak Settle. - Date about 1670-5. Messrs. Robersons.
The western chair, Fig. 251, is distinguished by over-elaboration of ornament, in very flat relief. A close examination of the lower panel, in the back of this chair, will show that nearly every inch of available space is covered with this flat decoration. The cresting is from the solid wood of the top rail and the uprights of the framing, the junctions at the bases of the end scrolls being contrived with some ingenuity.
In the Hertfordshire chair of this date, of which Fig. 252 is an example, the framing of the back is very massive, with broad top rail, and separate cresting pegged on. There is a peculiar chip character in the carving which can be seen in the illustration. The arcading of the back panel is not in relief but in intaglio, the entire design being cut into the solid wood with the gouge and parting tool. The general quality is crude, yet with a certain vigour which is typical of Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Berkshire at this period. Other pronounced types from Yorkshire and Lancashire will be described and illustrated at a later stage. Some of the earlier examples have already been shown in the previous pages.
Fig. 256. Oak Settle. - Dated 1704. Messrs. Gregory and Co.
Various forms of the high-back settle appear in Commonwealth times. Economy, of space would no doubt dictate a combination of settle, table and chest, as in Fig. 253. A portion of the seat is hinged to give access to the chest below. The flat incising of the arcading has been scratched from centres, the tool used being probably a pair of dividers, one point having a cutting edge. The general style of this piece suggests the North Riding of Yorkshire.
Fig. 257. Yew And Fruit-Wood Chair. - Dated 1640.