Picture This LXXV

The regional stylistic variations of Windsor chairs – and their forerunners, stick chairs – are many. Low-back stick chairs made in Carmarthenshire in the south-west of Wales evolved into a distinct style identifiable by their massive one-piece horse shoe-shaped arms and colossal slab seats (fig. 1).

Geo_III_ash_&_sycamore_Carmarthen_chair_c1800_01a_Tim_BowenFig. 1. Ash and sycamore chair, west Wales, circa 1800. (Tim Bowen)

These simple chairs were made from whatever timber was available locally and often literally employed sticks cut from the hedge which were whittled to fit the sockets bored in the seats and arms. The monumental one-piece arms were hewn from the naturally crooked limbs of contorted trees that existed in the mountainous landscape.

As with crackets and cricket tables, three-legged Carmarthen chairs found favour in lowly dwellings with uneven flag- or compacted clay floors (figs. 2, 3 and 4).

Wm_III_oak_Carmarthen_chair_c1700_02aFig. 2. William III oak Carmarthen chair, circa 1700.

Wm_III_oak_Carmarthen_chair_c1700_01a_Robert_YoungFig. 3. William III oak Carmarthen chair, circa 1700 (Robert Young).

Geo_III_oak_low-back_chair_c1760_01a_Robert_YoungFig. 4. George III oak Carmarthen chair, circa 1760 (Robert Young).

Jack Plane

About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
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6 Responses to Picture This LXXV

  1. Alex A. says:

    These remind me of a pair of chairs in my parents house. They came from my grandfather’s pub in Leeds (he worked for Tetley’s) but I have no idea where they originally came from.


  2. stevenrey56 says:

    In figure 3 the spindles seem to be a stark contrast from the rest of the chair. Do you suppose those turnings were a separate local business? The legs appear to be spokeshaved, not turned.
    All in all, I bet this one is the most comfortable of those pictured.


  3. janusz493 says:

    Carmarthenshire & South Wales generally was much poorer than North Wales. Hence the furniture of the South is generally “simpler” and more “rusrtic”. The North, especially Snowdonia had a much more plentiful supply of Oak. As an example of this rich-poor divide, NW “Welsh Dressers” are much more refined with cupboard bases, drawers etc. South Wales ones are simpler with an open base “Pot board” (Cooking pots stored there).


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