History of The Chair
In the quest to gather information on the origins of the lambing chair, one source proved invaluable: Dr. Bernard Cotton, co-founder and current president of the Regional Furniture Society in the United Kingdom. Dr. Cotton, a noted scholar in the field of British regional furniture, provided us with the historical background for the chair, and its function in eighteenth and nineteenth century rural England.

Dr. Cotton's book, The English Regional Chair, a comprehensive study of domestic country furniture, along with The Journal of the Regional Furniture Society, is an excellent resource in this area. In his book, Dr. Cotton writes about this type of chair:

The 'box' form of winged armchair made in the Lancashire and Yorkshire Dales is an extremely diverse and comfortable regional style of chair which is peculiar to this region.

Typically chairs of this style are large, and were probably intended for use by the male head of the household. However, occasional smaller versions of this chair style have been recorded which have the same stylistic connotations as the low armed rush seated chairs from the North West, and were probably made for use by female members of the household.

The great variety of individual designs found in this group of chairs suggests that they were made by cabinet makers or carpenters for an individual order, rather than working in the tradition of the turner who made many chairs in the same design. These chairs were, perhaps, the most comfortable and commodious made in the English common chair tradition, andů (held) the pride of place at the hearth.

Hearsay evidence has claimed that these chairs were 'lambing' chairs, a title which suggests that they were used by shepherds who sat up during the night to oversee their flocks. This belief is probably apocryphal, although by the nature of their regional origins in the sheep farming countryside, they would, no doubt, often have been used at home by shepherds.

For Further Information:
The English Regional Chair, Bernard D. Cotton, Antique Collectors' Club
English Country Furniture: 1500-1900, David Knell, Antique Collectors' Club
Available at: www.Antiquecc.com

Journal
The Journal of Regional Furniture Society
Available at: www.RegionalFurnitureSociety.com