When we think of vernacular furniture, the Welsh dresser and the Windsor chair come to mind. These pieces of furniture were made by local craftsmen and their design tended to ignore the city styles of furniture being made for the wealthy middle classes and the aristocracy. Of course, some provincial furniture makers happily imitated city styles however it often depended on the proximity of the joiner or antique cabinet maker to London, their relevant skills and the wealth of local patrons to buy their pieces. In the more remote regions of the countryside, both skilled artisans and local craftsmen alike may not have come into ready contact with city styles, or if they did, chose to ignore the fashions in furniture design that were passing in and out of favour.
It is perhaps the respect for local traditions of furniture making that helped certain types of vernacular furniture to endure. However it would take many years of living within a certain area to understand why certain pieces of furniture dominated the local landscape. The Welsh oak dresser has become synonymous with most types of dresser which are often not Welsh at all. Oak was used as a wood of choice in Wales long after it had gone out of fashion in London and walnut and mahogany was rarely used. Oak could be dyed with ox’s blood to simulate mahogany but generally Welsh furniture retained its own style rather than borrowing from the English. The dresser however, was not solely made in Wales but was also made in Lancashire, Shropshire and Yorkshire to its own particular local design. However Wales made many dressers in a variety of styles and thus the name ‘Welsh Dresser’ has stuck.
Reputable antique dealers can help find quality handmade country pieces of antique furniture such as dressers, tables and antique dining chairs . Preston and the surrounding areas offer much in the way of choice.
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