Oak backstool, or side chair, with boarded seat and panel back.





Oak backstool, or side chair, with boarded seat and panel back.




A joined oak backstool, or side chair, with boarded seat and panel back with a carved crest rail and turned front legs and stretcher.

Full Description

This oak backstool has a rectangular panelled back set within moulded posts, beneath a raised crest carved with foliate scrolls on either side of a central flower, the posts with carved scrolls to the tops. A lower back rail is positioned at seat level. The back is slightly raked and the back legs, which are continuous with the posts, are upright. The seat is boarded and rests on rails tenoned into the legs. The front legs are turned with bobbins and reels, with squared blocks at the joints. There is a front stretcher which is turned with reels and balusters, with squared ends. There are two stretchers each side and one back stretcher. The ball-turned feet are missing.

The overall form, proportions and decoration of this joined oak backstool indicate a date of 1680-1700. On earlier chairs the rectangular back was narrower in height. Gradually, backs became square and on later chairs, from around 1690, the fashion was for very high backs. The carved crest rail with its scrolled leaves and central flower is typical of late-17th century decoration. The front stretcher, turned with reels and positioned high off the ground, is also a late-17th century feature; on earlier backstools the front stretchers are generally plain, like the side and back stretchers here, and they are positioned at the same level as the lower side stretchers, close to the floor.

Chairs like this, known as backstools, would have been for daily use in the parlour or dining room. Often in smaller or less prosperous households there was a single room where the family gathered for meals and where guests would have been received. Armchairs were still relatively scarce; there might have been a few backstools but most people would have sat on stools and benches at this period.

The term ‘joined’ refers both to the maker, a joiner who was a skilled craftsman making furniture and panelling, and the structure of the chair, which is a framework joined with mortice and tenon joints, secured with wooden pegs and glue. In this example there is no upholstery, which would have kept the cost down, but upholstered backstools covered with leather or turkeywork (an English woollen cloth with a pattern derived from Turkish carpets) were also popular with more prosperous households.

This backstool might have been made in the North West of England, where there was a strong tradition for oak furniture, and chairs of this type were made into the early 18th century.


The front and back legs, the front stretcher and the crest rail on this chair appear to be original.
The seat boards, back panel and the side and rear stretchers are later replacements.
Turned feet are missing.
There are traces of black stain or varnish, possibly used to disguise the use of newer timber for the replacement parts.



Physical Dimensions

H. 100
W. 50
D. 46

Parker Numbers



Not recorded, but in the Collection prior to 1993.


See Victor Chinnery, Oak, The British Tradition, Antique Collectors Club, 1979, p.278 and pp.518-9.