Handmade Matters welcomes all those intrigued by chair making. Classes ideally cater for a maximum of three students with warm emphasis on each individual. The studio is dedicated to Windsor Chair making and within its walls you’ll find all manner of vintage tools, boutique books and tales of skilled craftsman.
Jon schedules classes by negotiation. It’s not only the exact nature of the class that can be tailored to suit, but also the date and time. Please get in touch to discuss your potential date and any special requirements.
If you are interested in a multi-day class, Handmade Matters can provide recommendations on where to stay – there’s nothing quite like a well-kept local secret!
Classic Windsor Side Chair
Classic Windsor Arm Chair
Riving and Bending
The Windsor Chair
The Windsor chair originated in England during the 1600s, possible in the county of Buckinghamshire. Early Windsors were of the comb-back variety, however by the 18th century steam bending was used to produce the characteristic bow of the chair back.
Traditionally there were three types of craftsmen involved in the construction of a Windsor chair; the chair bodger, the benchman and the framer. The bodger and the benchman would make various elements of the chair and then the framer would assemble the components and complete the craft.
A hallmark of the Windsor Chair is a solid wooden seat into which the legs and the back all terminate. The tapering of the pieces results in them all fitting tightly together. Once in use, the weight of the user on the chair serves to reinforce its strength by pushing the legs and seat together. Originally carved from beech, birch or ash in England, part of the beauty of the Windsor Chair is that it can be constructed from whatever timber is available.
There has long been speculation about the name of the chair. It is largely accepted it is derived from the town of Windsor, which was the centre of trade between the early chair makers and the London dealers. Today, the name Windsor Chair is more about the style of chair than where it was made, with many diverse forms of Windsor Chair now being made worldwide.
English settlers introduced the Windsor Chair to North America. The first American Windsor chair based on the traditional British design is believed to have been made in Philadelphia in 1730. The American Windsor chair has had its own evolution, however basic design principles have not changed.
Much later, in 1884, English chair maker George Peddle settled in Tasmania. He was joined by his brother-in-law Harry Hearn and together they established the craft on the island. Peddle’s chairs were always made of blackwood, and in the style of the English Windsor Chair. As well as the conventional upright chairs, he also made armchairs and rocking chairs. Around 1900 Peddle won a contract from the Tasmanian railways to supply chairs and they became a common sight on the railway stations around the state. Today a George Peddle original is considered a valuable collector’s item.
The Windsor chair is a classic piece of furniture piece that will never lose its charm.