Unlike most pieces of antique furniture, the hall chair was never actually built for comfort but purely for show. As early as Elizabethan times, these straight upright chairs would line the sides of great halls, and by the early 18th century it was customary for visitors, tradespeople and servants to sit upon these chairs until they were called for. At this time, everyone came through the front door rather than going round to the ‘tradesman’s entrance’. The style of the chair also denoted its use. These chairs were not upholstered where the wet cloaks of chair carriers would ruin any fine wool work seat. The seat was generally flat with perhaps a carved dip in the middle being its only concession so that the sitter would not slide off.
Originally a simply designed piece, it soon began to take on characteristics of the house in which it was placed. As coats of armour began to disappear from view, family armorials were transferred to the hall chair and backs were painted or carved with family crests. By the middle of the 18th century, famous furniture designers and decorators like Thomas Chippendale, Robert Adam and George Hepplewhite were incorporating Rococo and then Neoclassical styling to the backs of these chairs. As servants were now installed in their own part of the house, tradespeople no longer lingered in large hallways. However, the hall chair remained and continued throughout the Victorian and Edwardian eras to reflect the many revival styles, influences and aspirations of the period.
Antique hall chairs will decorate a modern hallway beautifully. When looking for hall chairs and antique dining chairs in Lancashire and Cumbria, local dealers will be able to show you some fine individual pieces.
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