Where most fine antique furniture over the past three hundred years was designed for comfort and show, the hall chair never was and remained quite separate from fancier drawing room and boudoir furniture.
Its main purpose was to provide rather cold comfort to visitors and trades people waiting to be seen by the owner of the house. In the 18th century, it was still the custom for trades people and servants to call at the front door rather than go round to the tradesman’s entrance at the side or rear of the house. The hall chair, although of well made solid wood construction, often mahogany, had all forms of comfort and padding removed, so dripping coats would cause little damage to these usually well constructed but uncomfortable chairs.
As the century wore on and servants were increasingly confined to their own part of the house, the hall chair because it was continuously on public display, took on a personality of its own. It was on the backs of these chairs where owners would display armorial coats of arms to create a sense of show for visitors coming through the hallway.
In this way, these antique chairs can be linked back to grand houses in Lancashire and other parts of the country. The Victorian era saw a decline in the use of the hall chair although they still retained their quirkiness and character becoming the focus of any eclectic Victorian taste that took the owner’s fancy.
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