A Chair from Hall’s Croft in Stratford-upon-Avon

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While teaching in England in the summer of 2015, Roy Underhill and I had a day off together and headed to Stratford-upon-Avon with his wife, Jane, to check out all things William Shakespeare.

While touring Hall’s Croft, where Shakespear’s daughter lived, both Roy and I became fascinated with a small primitive chair in a corner by some stairs. There was no evidence the chair was anything important, that it had been owned by the family or was even from the 17th century. But it was charming, and Roy and I took lots of photos of it.

We both got the bug to build a reproduction. But Roy beat me to it for this season of “The Woodwright’s Shop.” Check out the two-part episodes here:

Episode One on the Welsh Stick Chair.

Episode Two on the Welsh Stick Chair.

While visiting Roy this fall I got to sit in the chair. It is tiny – good thing I don’t have much of a butt. And the visit only strengthened my resolve to build one myself.

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With all my furniture commissions complete for the year and all my editing under control (thanks Kara!), I started making the Hall’s Croft chair this morning. I won’t be able to make it out of elm, but I am going to stay true to the size and rough spirit of the original.

It’s an odd feeling to get to start a project without a customer, article or need to satisfy (other than my curiosity). But here we go.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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8 Responses to A Chair from Hall’s Croft in Stratford-upon-Avon

  1. charlie says:

    Thistle and a holly leaf?

  2. fitz says:

    It sits just fine for those w/larger posteriors, too. (Glad you’re building it!)

  3. joemcglynn says:

    Jackel Enterprises in Watsonville, CA has slab-sawn Elm. On sale this week even I think. They got a number of historic Elm trees from San Jose State a few years ago, I remember seeing a few gianormous slabs in stock as well as smaller pieces.

  4. momist says:

    Not a thistle – that’s the dried head of a teasel flower (which contains the seeds). It is at least as prickly as the dried holly leaf. Many of the ancient houses in England display chairs that they do not wish the public to sit in. This seems a very subtle way to discourage anyone sitting there. It’s better than a rope across the arms, which is the common way!

  5. jayedcoins says:

    Awesome. These were great episodes of Roy’s show — looking forward to the CS journey through the same chair.

  6. As you don’t need to meet a deadline I hope you enjoy the process of making it. JB is one of my heroes as he is yours.

  7. colsdave says:

    Now is the Windsor of our discontentment
    Made furious bummers by this son of Dork;
    And all the bums that lowered upon our chair
    In the deep saddling and gutter carved.

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