Sunday, December 8, 2013

Her Majesty's Furniture: The Richard Bridgens Chair, 1815

Chair, 1815
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Who doesn’t like a chair with a little fringe on it? While, the upholstery on this chair has been replaced, it has been done so using historical illustrations of the chair and by copying wool fragments of the original cover. Hidden under the upholstery, the chair is stamped with the numerals XXIV, suggesting that it was once a part of a large set which was housed at Battle Abbey.

Battle Abbey was founded by William the Conqueror on the site of the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The abbey was rebuilt by 1500. Between 1812 and 1822, Sir Godfrey Vassal Webster (1789-1836) , who inherited the abbey in 1810, ordered a massive program of restoration which included the reroofing of the medieval Great Hall and work on the former Abbot's house. Webster commissioned appropriate furniture, including this set of chairs which were used throughout the abbey.

The frame of the chair is of stained oak, partly gilded and painted crimson, with an upholstered back and seat and gilt brass adornment. The chair-back boasts rectangular upholstered panel which is flanked by two spirals and set between two cross rails, each of which is ornamented with five gilt-brass rosette studs. In the center of the crest is a large gilt-brass shield bearing the Webster family crest. The chair is upholstered in crimson cloth with a deep, dramatic fringe around the seat.

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