The 17th-century World of Sitting

From Randle Holme III’s “Academy of Armory,” which he began in 1649. As republished in “Living and Working in Seventeenth Century England”


He beareth a Throne, a chair Royall, or a Cathedre (from it Latine terme), adorned with a veriaty of precious stones.


He beareth a Chaire.
This is a chaire made vp by an Imbrautherer, which being all of one colour needs noe more termes; but it it be of contrary colours, as when it is made vp of needle, or turky worke then the fringe is diuerse coloured, (or the seate and back of Needle work) proper ffringed answererable thereunto, Garnished (or set the Nayles), of the first. If the chaire be made all of Joyners worke, as back and seate then it is termed a Joynt chaire, or a Buffit chaire. Those which haue stayes on each side are called Arme chaires or chaires of ease.


Turned chair
He beareth a Turned chaire with Armes.


Settle chair
He beareth a chaire. This is the old way of makeing the chaire. Some term it a settle chaire, being so weighty that it cannot be moued from place to place, but still abideth in it owne station, haueing a kind of box or cubbert in the seate of it.


He beareth a stoole (or stoole frame).


Joint stool
He beareth a joynt stoole. It is so called because all made and finished by the Joyner, haueing a wood couer: In most places in Cheshire it is termed a Buffit stool.


Turned stool
He beareth a Turned stoole. This is so termed because it is made by the Turner, or wheele wright all of a Turned wood, wrought with Knops, and rings ouer the feete, these and the chaires, are generally made with three feete.


Country stool
He beareth a countrey stoole, or a planke, or Block stoole, being onely a thick peece of wood, with either 3 or 4 peece of wood fastned in it for feet. Note that if these be made long, then they are termed, either a Bench, a Forme, or a Tressell; of some a long seate. Some of these stooles haue but three feete.


He beareth a round three footed stoole, or a countrey stoole made round with three feete.


Nursing stool
He beareth a nursing. stoole; In some places it is called a crickett, or low stoole, or a childs stoole.


Joint form
He beareth a Joynt Forme, or Bench.
These are termed Joynt formes, because wholy and workmanlike made, by Artists of the Joyners craft. Some are made with turned feete, 4 or 6, according to its length, hauing railes or Barres both aboue, for the seate to be fixed vpon, and below, to hold the feete firme and stiddy. If the couers be broad then they are blazoned, Tables.

Twiggen chair
There is another kind of these chaires called Twiggen chaires because they are made of Owsiers, and Withen twigs: haueing round couers ouer the heads of them like to a canapy. Thes are principally used by sick and infirm people, and such women as haue bine lately brought to bed; from whence they are generally termed, Growneing chaires, or Child-bed chaires.

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5 Responses to The 17th-century World of Sitting

  1. smbarnha says:

    What does a bamboo pole have to do with anything?

    Thanks for the descriptions and illustrations. The stool looks most similar to your current project. Do you know if they would bend the feet outward or select wood with a crook in it for the legs?

    Also wondering on the description for chair – what’s an imbrautherer? Can a joiner be an imbrautherer or are they unique? If not made of joiner’s work, then what construction would it be?

    • “Imbrautherer” is (I think) an “embroiderer” or someone who works with cloth.

      • pfollansbee says:

        True enough. Embroiderer it is. Chairs like this, the textiles take precedence over the construction. Yes, a joiner made the chair; But the textile work, whether “turkey work” (i.e. looks like turkish carpets) or plain wool fabric or leather – that’s the stuff that’s impressive.

  2. vadoucette says:

    The chair abides.

  3. Vaughn Webber says:

    Just wanted to elevate this snippet that I caught…
    Teens in English Waldorf school using a draw knife to make stick stools…

Comments are closed.