13 Apr 2021
July 23, 2012 - Filed under: Antique Chairs — Harriet

The antique dining chairs made by American Shaker communities epitomise Arts & Crafts furniture . Now, one of these humble seats has been made the unlikely focus of a play by Canadian playwright Adam Bock.

Victorian dining chairs in Lancashire often feature ladder-backs and rush seats. Such chairs are sometimes called Lancashire chairs and it was a style much used by the Shaker community. This is hardly surprising, as although Shaker Arts & Crafts furniture is thought of as American, it has its origins in Manchester and a couple called the Wardleys. They began a new religious sect which became dubbed “the shaking Quakers” on account of their cleansing rituals. In 1774, a small group led by Ann Lee emigrated to America, where they established a monastic, self-sufficient community, making furniture both for their own use and for sale to the public.

Shaker designs were inspired by the religious beliefs of the society, adhering to principles of simplicity, functionality and quality of craftsmanship. The Shakers believed that hard work paved the way to spiritual accomplishment, so there was none of the well-padded comfort of a Victorian balloon back dining chair . These are some of the issues examined in Bock’s play, which was chosen by the Cripple Creek Players of New Orleans, Louisiana, to close their current season. It examines the conflicts faced by lead character Marion, who purchases the chair before being reluctantly drawn into terrorist action by her environmentalist friend.

Whether it’s a Shaker chair or a Victorian mahogany partners desk , all Lancashire antiques are green, and a good selection can be found at your local antiques dealer.

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