The Different Woods Used to Make the Antique English Windsor Chairs
Antique English Windsor chairs were always made from wood. But there was a reasonable variety in the woods used, depending on the type of chair and where it was made. Indeed, the more you learn about these chairs and where they came from, the easier it is to work out their history according to the woods that were used in their creation.
One interesting point to note is that it was quite common to use more than one type of wood in the making of a single chair. For example both hardwoods and softwoods may be used, with lighter softwood selected for the seat and a hardwood used for the legs. Sometimes a particular wood was chosen for its ability to bend more easily. This was ideal when a U shaped piece of wood was needed to form the arms and curve around the back of the chair. Ash was often chosen for this purpose. Yew was another popular choice for English Windsor chairs made in the UK.
Indeed you can try and gauge where a particular chair might have come from if you can identify the woods used. For example a chair made at least in part from hickory is likely to be of American origin.
This is worth bearing in mind if you want to be sure you get a truly English Windsor chair to admire.
Many British made English Windsor chairs will have a seat made from elm. This is an extremely strong wood and its makeup is such that it allows all the necessary holes to be made for the spindles to be inserted. You can see that certain woods were chosen for specific parts of the chair because of their properties: for example because they were easy to bend without breaking (for curved spindles and so on) and because they would not be prone to splitting (for the seat, as mentioned above).
So while you may think it is unusual to have a chair made from more than one wood, you can see that in fact this is not the case at all.