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Windsor Chair Repair


A Windsor chair is a wood chair whose back and sides consist of multiple thin, turned spindles that are attached to a solid, sculpted seat; its straight legs splay outward and its back reclines slightly. It takes its name from the English town of Windsor, where it originated around 1710.

Legend has it that King George II, seeking shelter from a storm, arrived at a peasant cottage and was given a multi-spindled chair to sit on. Its comfort and simplicity impressed him so much he had his own furniture-maker copy it - and the Windsor vogue was born, according to the Treasury of American Design and Antiques by Clarence P. Hornung. By the 1730s, the chair had crossed the ocean and began appearing in Britain's American colonies. It was first crafted, probably, in Philadelphia, then throughout New England and other regions.


Yankee Ingenuity

If the Windsor chair developed in England, its form was perfected in America. Colonial craftsmen eliminated the central splat featured in the original chair's back. They also slenderized the splats and legs, and developed, for some models, the 'continuous arm' - that is, the chair arms and back rim are made of a single, bent piece of wood. These alterations simultaneously strengthened the chair while giving it a light, airy appearance - "a delicate balance and harmony," as Hornung puts it.

Windsors come in a variety of styles, including armchairs, side chairs, rockers, and - as many students of a certain age remember - writing chairs. There are even Windsor settees. The spindled backs come in several heights and shapes too, and Windsors are usually identified by that feature: "low back", "comb back", "bow back."


But the best-known, the version that seems the quintessential Windsor, is the sack-back or hoop-back, usually an armchair with a semi-circular back. These are the ones that often appear in portraits of prominent colonial figures and, as the American Revolution approached, members of the Second Continental Congress. In fact, cabinetmaker Francis Trumble made more than a hundred of them for the Philadelphia State House in the 1770s where the Declaration of Independence was drafted.

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