Antique dealer David Gray sold a chair that may have been made from wood from William Shakespeare’s mulberry tree.
The famous playwright probably planted a Mulberry tree at New Place, his Stratford-upon-Avon home. In the 18th Century, the house was occupied by the Reverend Francis Gastrell who felled the tree in the 1750s. A cutting from the tree was planted in the garden and was fully grown when the chair was made in 1862.
The intricately carved chair was made for the wealthy patron William Cosens whose name is on the back of the chair together with references to Shakespeare. Cosens was known to have a passion for Shakespeare, and it was rumoured that wood from the New Place Mulberry tree was used in the construction of the chair.
The present owners of New Place, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, do not have records of whether any of the branches on the Mulberry Tree were used to make furniture.
After Frederick Cosens died, his paintings, books and furniture were sold at auction by Sotheby’s. It is not known whether the chair was part of the sale. Antique dealer Gray bought the chair from a private collector a few years ago and kept it at his home before selling it in 2017.
For those looking for an antique dining table and chairs in Lancashire antique shops, they will find Victorian wooden carved ones, even if is doubtful that any of them will be connected to Shakespeare.
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