The Back Splat: An Eye Catching Part of the English Windsor Chairs
As you become more familiar with the wide range of antique English Windsor chairs that are still around today, you will notice that many of them have a thicker piece of wood in the centre of the back of the chair. This is known as a splat, and may also be referred to as a back splat, simply to indicate its position on the chair itself.
This is an interesting part of the chair design because it can vary quite a lot between chairs. Not all English Windsor chairs have splats; some of the simpler designs – particularly those used as casual chairs rather than in the armchair design – do not have them. But many of the armchair styled English Windsor chairs do, and it is quite fascinating to see the degree of work and craftsmanship that has gone into making them.
There are three main types of these splats that are commonly seen:
• A piece of wood with shaped edges that is solid in nature
• A piece of wood with shaped edges that has a cut out in the middle
• A piece of wood that has a carved design rather than a cut out
The first two types are more common than the third, but the designs are traditionally of a mirror image, where one side is exactly the same as the other.
The splat is really an excellent chance for the chair maker to inject some added finesse into the chair. Some splats are very basic and have a very simple design, whereas others are incredibly ornate. Generally the more work that has gone into it, the more expensive the chair will be.
Since these chairs were also made later on in America, you may assume that the antiques from the US would have these back splats in them as well. But this is not the case. In actual fact the Americans disliked the splat, preferring a more basic and efficient design. So the splat is really a quintessentially English feature of the English Windsor chair.