High Wycombe and its Role in English Windsor Chair Making
While it is thought that the name of the English Windsor chair derives from its creation in the Windsor area, the High Wycombe area is well known as a key part of the country where these chairs were made. Even today there is a brisk furniture trade in High Wycombe, although its heyday of producing fine English Windsor chairs is over.
The earliest chair makers in this area came from two families in particular – the Widgingtons and the Treachers. There are various mentions of the English Windsor chair from the early 1700s onwards, although the area was well known for its chair making skills as far back as the 1600s. Over the years High Wycombe became known as the ‘seat’ of chair making of many kinds, although its history with English Windsor chairs is perhaps more in depth than with other styles.
One of the best ways to get a feel for the area’s contribution to antique English Windsor chair making is to pay a visit to the Wycombe Museum. It has a superb collection of these chairs that has become quite famous. You can also find out more about the history of the chair making in the area. With free admission, it is well worth going to if you are ever in the area.
One of the reasons why this area was a hive of activity in the chair making arena was because there were plenty of trees growing here that were ideal for furniture making of all kinds. So there was no need to export the wood from other parts of the country: it was all right here on the doorstep. People were employed to buy and fell the trees needed, and the wood was then used to make a constant stream of English Windsor chairs.
Other items of furniture were made more frequently as the years wore on, but there is no doubt that the English Windsor chairs were the most popular item created by far. If you come across an antique chair of this kind today, it may well have been made in High Wycombe.