Masters Chairs

A little intro text about the masters chairs?

Edward Newman Masters Chair 1754

Edward Newman (about 1692–1758) was a cabinet and chair maker based in St Paul’s Churchyard and Master of the Company in 1749. In 1754 the Company commissioned him to make this large ceremonial armchair in Mahogany. He was paid 27 pounds and 6 shillings (about £6,000 in today’s money), which is recorded in one of the Company’s minute books.

The Chair reveals exceptional craftsmanship and inventiveness. It is carved with leafy Gothic arches surmounted with the Company’s coat of arms. Both outward-curving arms terminate with a lion’s head.

In contrast, there are many straight lines in the lower part of the Chair which features square-section legs and a leather-covered upholstered seat.

The Chair was on display in the Joiners 450th Anniversary Exhibition after which it was returned to the furniture gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum where it is on permanent display.

Edward Newman Masters Chair 1754

Made by Past Master Edward Newman. Restoration and replacement parts carved 2018–19 by Freeman Clunie Fretton. Display plinth concept by Liveryman John A Briner and designed and made by Past Master Clive T Turrell

Masters Chair 2000-2021

The Chair was made by Freeman Chris J P Ward with carved elements by Freeman Clunie Fretton.

Masters chair 2000-2021

Clunie Fretton

The Chair was made by Freeman Chris J P Ward with carved elements by Freeman Clunie Fretton.

Past Master Derek J Woods was responsible for the concept and brief and the original design was by James Scott Gormley, a former student at the Building Crafts College.

The upholstery was undertaken by Roy Theobald, Liveryman of the Upholders Company and Liveryman Mark Shorney of Doug Phillips ( Joinery) Ltd. arranged for the sprayed lacquer finish to be executed.

The stainless steel engraved acknowledgement plate was donated by Past Master Roy Peppiatt. The display plinth concept was by Liveryman John A Briner and designed and made by Past Master Clive T Turrell.

Overview of the new Master’s Chair This Chair began life as a request by Past Master Derek J Woods to the Company’s Charitable Trust to support a project for students/apprentices in the early stages of their career.

It took five years to bring it to fruition with the anniversary being the catalyst. The Chair includes dates to commemorate 450 years of the Company (1571–2021). These numbers have been designed in by Chris J P Ward as the Chair is 1571mm tall and the lumbar rail is 20.21 inches.

It is made from European Oak and Black Bog Oak (which is about 5000 years old). Chris took over 1000 hours to develop his designs from the original design and make the Chair. Chris thought through each joint carefully, which are all hidden within the Chair. They include:

  • Mortise-and-tenon joints (where the projecting end of one piece of wood is cut to fit into a hole in another piece) between the side rails of the seat and the legs. These strong joints take the load of the sitter.
  • A tapered sliding dovetail joint (an interlocking joint between two pieces of wood) between the headboard and rear legs. This required sub-millimetre precision for it to work.
  • Parnham joints (which have a metal dowel as it is a stronger material). These feature across different parts of the Chair, such as the ends of the arm stumps.

Clunie Fretton’s carved elements for the Master’s Chair include the:

  • Company’s coat of arms made from pear wood
  • Back splat (the vertical central element of a chair back)
  • Company’s dates, which were carved in 5000-year-old Bog Oak