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Photo: Grandfather chair in need of TLC

Photo: Grandfather chair in need of TLC

Years ago I found a lovely old lath back chair in an unused room in my Aunt Pickles’ house. This was to become a good friend and was a constant nightly companion when I first started blogging and often worked late into the night. Unfortunately it needed re gluing and, every now and then, a leg would fall off. I had plenty of glue left over from my days as a wooden toymaker and I would make a small repair. Then one day, rushing the repair I made the chair slightly off balance and one of the side struts snapped.

The chair sat in the kitchen, too delicate for all but a fairy to perch on. It became Inca’s crows nest. The perfect place to curl up out of the draughts and dive bomb Great Aunt Daisy Beatyl until she went to the great dog basket in the sky.

We kept on discussing the future of this chair – the prognosis was good as long as we could find a reliable furniture restorer. Meanwhile the high back was a useful place to store the oven cloths and air tea towels.

Last week, on our girly day out, Celia told me about a good restorer who lives in Withersfield. So this morning I loaded it into the car and Richard Brown examined it carefully. Yes, my old friend could be reglued and repaired. A happiness.

I have a fondness for this style of chair. A comfotable chair that you can sit and sleep in. For years I’ve been looking out for another one without success  – they now can fetch ridiculously high prices. When Celia and I were viewing the Willingham forthcoming auction, I spotted a few of these chairs. One was very tatty and not even standing undercover. I thought that I’d try it for size – it was just like coming home.

So I put in a lowish commission bid for the chair. Watched the auction live online from my bed and I got it. This one doesn’t need re-gluing – just stripping and waxing. This will be one of my projects for the winter. One chair will sit in the kitchen and one will live upstairs in my bedroom – where I’m planning to have a table rather than lying in bed with my laptop and dogs.

So next spring, if all goes well, I will look out over our newly planted front garden and watch what’s happening in the world beyond our gate. Hopefully there will be a bit of time for some writing too.

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  1. I’ve been a lurker of late – too much going on in real life.

    But this chair is the image of my late Father’s. Then Mother used it, but now she is in a home for her own safety.

    So that leaves me. I would use it more on the days I house sit Mother’s, but the arms do not allow sitting at Grandfather’s Bureau I’ve rescued from Aunt’s (It has a plaque thanking him for service).

    I recently found a photo of my father re-making the chair from the component parts. He was a chair maker, so no challenge for him. The photo is currently in my kitchen.

    Odd thing; I think of my father more now he has died (in 2006) than I did on a typical day in,say, 2000. And a similar pattern developing with my mother, who is still alive, but no longer able to look after herself.

  2. Michelle in NZ

    My dear Nana, mavis, had a cane chair in her kitchen where she could sit in comfort. The arms were just the right height to rest your arms on when knitting. This chair was very battered when Carol,a lovely friend of my folks, took it in 1980 as Nana moved to a smaller, more modern home. Carol had all the cane work repaired and still has Mavis’s chair in her home.

    I’m so pleased you can get the original restored, and its new chair friend too. Sending care and huggles to you all, Michelle xxx (Zeb is soundly and silenty asleep)

  3. janerowena

    I had a similar experience with my brother-in-law and a monk’s settle, maggenpie! He leant too hard against one of the side-arms and the whole thing fell apart.

    I have every sympathy with you and your old chair, I have lost a couple of beloved chairs over the years and am about to lose another. It’s like losing an old friend.

  4. maggenpie

    I have a similar chair, also fragile and in need of re-gluing. Yes, I too make occasional repairs to keep it going. With my chair its the arm that falls off, owing to my rather large mother-in-law squeezing herself into it many years ago while I watched in horror, unable to avert the obvious tragedy! The seat is badly cracked, and no one but myself and small children are allowed to sit in it now. One day, I keep promising myself, I will dismantle it and put it right. I agree Fiona, there is something very special about these old chairs.

  5. Chai Chai

    Most folks of the younger generation would have a hard time believing that a non-padded wooden chair could be comfortable. If only furniture manufacturers today could rediscover the secrets of their grandparents. Wonderful idea to have it restored.

    A former wooden toy maker? What a wonderful skill.

  6. Yes, I too am an avid follower of the willingham auctions, The internet bidding can become addictive so beware!

  7. …And every now and then a leg would fall off.” This bit had me in stitches.

    But there is something so special about the right kitchen chair, Fiona. I finally found the kitchen chair I’ve been after for years, and it’s just so perfect, and if the leg starts dropping off, I may be tempted to cart it all the way to Cambridge for repairs too!


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