The Windsor Chair - A Brief History

Windsor Chairs are believed to have originated in 18th Century England during the reign of King George III. Legend has it, the King discovered the chair while foxhunting. He stumbled upon a cottage during a thunderstorm where he found a plain chair, known as a "stick chair," that had spindles for its back and legs. As the story goes, King George ordered his carpenters to construct these "stick chairs" for Windsor Castle. They soon became known as Windsor chairs.

Interestingly, early Windsor chairs were made for outdoor use. They were lightweight in comparison to solid-back chairs and were unlikely to fall over during a storm because of their open construction. These chairs were painted to protect them from the weather. Dark green was the most popular shade. Paint also served as a disguise to hide the fact that three different types of wood comprised the chair. As people began purchasing the chairs for indoor use, the colors changed. Furniture makers began painting the greenchairs with vibrant colors of combinations of yellow, red or black. This is why authentic Windsors and reproductions will often feature chairs of one color with patches of green showing through.

When the popularity of the Windsor caught on and made its way to the United States, the chair took on unique American qualities while maintaining its British influence. Chairmakers in different regions of the country competed with one another to design the most popular type. Philadelphia craftsmen made the chairs with plain tapered legs instead of the expensive ball feet. Chairmakers in New York and New England created a new type - the continuous-arm Windsor, with a graceful bowed back and arms. Other major styles included the comb-back, low-back, fan-back, sack-back and bow-back.

Photographs on this page courtesy of Market Square Preview

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