Forgotten history of chairmaking

William Sergeant speaking on Lincolnshire chairs EMN-150827-105855001
William Sergeant speaking on Lincolnshire chairs EMN-150827-105855001
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Lincolnshire is well-known for many things, but chairmaking is not perhaps one of them.

One person who wants to put this right is William Sergeant, who has wide collection of Lincolnshire chairs and travels across the country taking to an array of groups on the subject.

William Sergeant's Lincolnshire Chair Museum EMN-150309-080406001

William Sergeant's Lincolnshire Chair Museum EMN-150309-080406001

William’s collection can be viewed on-line as the Lincolnshire Chair Museum and he is currently part of a study, lead by Dr Adam Bowett, on discovering more.

“It is widely known Lincolnshire had a large industry of making Windsor chairs in the south of the county around Grantham, Sleaford and Boston,” said William.

“From about 1785 for around 80 years, tens of thousands of Windsor and side chairs were made by businesses run by Taylor, Wilson, Hubbard and Amos.

“However, almost no one knows there was an equally large tradition of manufacturing rush seated, ladder back chairs around Caistor, as well as Spilsby, Louth, Alford.

William Sergeant's Lincolnshire Chair Museum EMN-150309-080417001

William Sergeant's Lincolnshire Chair Museum EMN-150309-080417001

“This appears to have started right at the beginning of vernacular chair making in England at the start of the 1700’s and carried on for about 150 years.

“It was run by the extended family of chairmakers with the surnames of Ashton, Green and Spikens .

“Whereas with the Windsor chairs it is possible to find chairs with the makers name and town impressed on the seat , the opposite is true with the rush seated chairs where not one has ever been found with the makers mark on it.

“This makes the location of origin of the Windsor chairs so easy and the place of making of the rush seated chairs so difficult.

“However, a huge amount of hearsay evidence was gathered in the 1980s by Dr B Cotton to pinpoint the location of these chairs to NE Lincolnshire.

“Even today, long established antique dealers and auctioneers will relate stories of how many years ago these chairs were a common item in houses they visited in and around the Wolds .

“These rush seated chairs were made in several slightly different designs and the study is being carried out see if there are any of these chairs in houses near their place of manufacture.”

If you have any of these chairs or know stories that can point to their origin contact William by email on williamsergeant@hotmail.com or through the Rasen Mail.