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The Windsor Chair - an English classic!

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It’s a classic chair whose origins have been lost in the mists of time. But what we do know about the Windsor chair is that people have been making them for more than 300 years. Some stories suggest that King George – the tales vary between Georges I, II and III – was visiting the home of some of his humble subjects and was offered a seat in a very comfortable wooden chair. He liked the chair so much, he had the design replicated and made for use in Windsor Castle.

Another, perhaps more plausible, story says that the chair became popular because of changes in the design of English gardens. In the mid-18th century, garden designers such as Capability Brown were turning away from the rigidly formal geometric designs of French gardens and adopting a more naturalistic, landscaped approach. This coincided with – and perhaps contributed to – a move towards using gardens as a place to sit and socialise and entertain guests. Furniture that was strong but light and portable was needed, and the Windsor chair was ideal. 

What is a Windsor chair?

1772 William Williams (1727-1791). The William Denning Family with Dog

But what is a Windsor chair? What makes it different from other chair designs? The main difference is that the Windsor chair’s legs are not connected to the spindles at the back. It is essentially a stool, with back spindles attached. The seat is made from a solid piece of wood, with legs attached. The back spindles form a comfortable backrest which comes in various arrangements; in some Windsor chairs, the spindles form a high back with arm rests, others have a bowback design. Some designs feature a back splat – a wider piece of wood in the centre of the chair back, featuring decorative designs such as a carved wheel or the Prince of Wales’s three-feather motif. Others have spindles all the way round. 

Many furniture historians believe that the Windsor chair was originally called a “Forest” chair, because it came from the Forest of Windsor, where they were made in small workshops; from there, they could be easily transported to London for sale. The earliest example of a Windsor chair that can be attributed to a particular manufacturer was made by John Pitt of Slough, which at the time (the early 18th century) was part of Windsor. It was made from cherrywood, with an elm seat. 

The chairs were traditionally made from two or three types of wood: elm for the seat, with the spindles and legs being made from woods such as ash, cherry or beech. Different parts of the chair were made by different craftsmen, including wheelwrights, who used their specialist skills to make the spindles, and “bodgers” – wood-turners who, despite their name, were actually highly skilled. Steam-bending was used to create the characteristic “bow” of the chair’s back.

A chair for America

Franklin Windsor chair

These basic designs have given rise to regional and national variations. In the 19th century, many chairs were made in Lancashire, while the area around the Chiltern Hills north-west of London became a centre of production (this was where the bodgers used to ply their trade, and presumably the beech forests provided an abundant supply of wood). Chairs made in the Suffolk village of Mendlesham were distinguished by their square backs.

The chair was taken to America, where it became hugely popular – it has been said that when the American Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, many of those present were seated on Windsor chairs. . A drawing from the 18th century shows Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States, seated on a Windsor chair. And a 1772 painting by American artist William Williams, “The Williams Family With Dog”, shows the distinguished-looking Mr Williams seated on a Windsor chair .

The Windsor chair - A pub classic

Early Windsor chairs were painted green to match the outdoor settings where they were to be used, but later examples were stained or varnished. As time went on, Windsor chairs became popular for indoor use – especially in inns and taverns, where their robust and comfortable design was ideal for drinkers and diners. They were also portable enough to be moved around, or moved aside for cleaning. Today the Windsor chair is still widely used in pubs and restaurants, in particular the bow-back design with a decorative splat.

Trent Furniture Wheelback chair

Trent Furniture’s Wheelback chair is a classic Windsor side chair with a wheel design on the back, made from European beechwood in a dark oak finish. It is available with a solid seat or an upholstered seat. The spindles behind the Wheelback chair’s backrest are a typical Windsor chair feature, giving the chair extra strength. Trent Furniture’s Spindleback chair is a simple, elegant variation on the Windsor chair design.

Trent Furniture’s Spindleback chair

The English furniture maker Ercol has long been a champion of the Windsor chair. Since the 1920s the Windsor has been part of Ercol’s identity, and now a whole range of Ercol Windsor furniture is available. And there’s a satisfying link going back to the chair’s origins – Ercol’s factory at Princes Risborough nestles at the base of the Chiltern Hills, where the bodgers of the 18th century used to ply their trade.

And today, it’s possible for Windsor chair enthusiasts to follow in the footsteps of those bodgers and furniture-makers of the 18th century and make their own Windsor chair. James Mursell runs five-day residential courses at his farm in West Sussex. No previous experience is necessary, but at the same time Mursell says that experienced woodworkers will be fully challenged. A maximum of eight people will attend each course, ensuring that everyone gets plenty of individual attention. 

Sitting on a piece of history

If you run a pub, bar or restaurant, it’s likely that Ercol’s Windsor chairs would be prohibitively expensive to purchase in large quantities, while making your own chairs in any numbers is clearly impractical. And antique and vintage chairs, though often beautiful pieces, are frequently expensive and not always robust enough for commercial use.

So your best option is to buy from a reliable supplier such as Trent Furniture, whose chairs (and other furniture items) are built to withstand the rigours of regular use in a busy commercial environment. They may not know it, but your customers will be sitting on a fascinating piece of English history

Which material is best for outdoor commercial furniture?

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Whether it be a restaurant, bar, café, pub or hotel, if the sun is shining in the UK, customers want to be outside – simply because of the rarity!  

Tips for outside furniture 

If there is space available, operators should make use of it by encouraging customers to dine or drink outside. Through spring and summer, this is important for businesses to consider as it maximises the number of potential custom. 

Having the right outdoor commercial furniture to battle with the unpredictable elements of British weather is a key element of any venue’s furnishings. With outdoor furniture coming in a range of different materials, it can be difficult to know which is best for your business. To help, we’ve put together a guide of the pros of the main three materials: wood, metal, rattan and plastic.

Commercial metal furniture and seating

Perhaps the most popular outdoor furniture material is metal. Metal chairs and tables are a good option for resisting the heavy rain and longer lengths of sunshine. Stainless steel and aluminium outdoor furniture are also light enough to be easily rearranged by yourself or by customers. This means that they can be easily stored away through winter and won’t take long to set up.  

Wooden furniture for outdoors

Typically associated with pubs who have wooden benches and tables, wood is a versatile and rustically attractive choice. The drawback of wooden outdoor furniture is undoubtedly the high maintenance that is required to keep it looking in good condition. Decay and rot through very wet conditions are common, which is why we generally advise customers to steer away and use wood-effect outdoor furniture.  

Plastic furniture for commercial use

Made from durable and water-resistant Polypropylene material, these chairs are highly versatile for use in a range of different outdoor spaces. Because plastic chairs are available in so many different styles and colours, operators can be unique with their choice, too. 

The material was previously seen as a cheaper choice by customers but with more innovate designs and finishes, this problem is fading. If the budget is low, plastic seating might be the best option for value for money. 

Rattan furniture for business

Rattan is a strong, flexible type of vine used to create this seating and tabling. The furniture is stylish, lightweight and because of the weave used, extremely comfortable without the need for cushions.

Commercial outdoor furniture advice

Each has their own merits and as a business owner, you need to choose the correct fit for your unique needs. If you need advice on weighing up which would be best for your establishment, get in touch with our team 0116 2983 641 who will be able to provide assistance. 

All of our commercial outdoor furniture is available to browse here. With seasons changing, now is the right time for operators to think about updating their outdoor furniture.

Common mistakes YOU NEED to avoid when buying restaurant furniture

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We have been the restaurant owner’s commercial furniture supplier of choice for a number of years. We’ve furnished hundreds of restaurants all across the UK and even overseas. It’s fair to say that we have plenty of experience when it comes to furnishing a restaurant.

For those of you who are a first-time purchaser of restaurant furniture, there are some common mistakes that can happen in the buying process. At Trent Furniture, we’ve decided to share our knowledge and explain some ways to avoid these mistakes with some top tips. 

Spend time planning your restaurant 

Buying your restaurant furniture shouldn’t simply be a case of going to our website and placing an order of however many chairs and tables. You can never spend too much time planning your purchase. To ensure you get it right, you need to think about the space available, amount of furniture needed and how it will affect the flow of your restaurant. Other considerations include your budget, the durability of the furniture and if it will fit with your restaurant’s image. 

Space considerations for diners

Overcrowding a restaurant with furniture is a common problem. In a bid to get more covers, restaurant owners can be tempted to squeeze in an extra few tables and chairs where space is already at a premium. The result is a restaurant that appears cluttered with little space to manoeuvre. This sacrifices customer’s comfort and privacy for extra seats - not a strategy that we agree with.

There should be at least 45cm between chairs, ensuring tables have space and staff have enough room to work around the tables. The higher quality of the restaurant this space should increase. 

Getting the measurements right

Check your restaurant’s dimensions more than once. There’s nothing worse than setting up a table only to find that it doesn’t fit into the corner of the room how you’d hoped. 

Once you have measured you’ve done this, take note of the dimensions of the furniture you’re looking to purchase and draw a sketched floor plan for every idea you have so that you can assess the pros and cons of each layout design.

Considering you customers’ needs

It might well work with you, but what about your customers? After all, they’re the ones who will be using it. Stay true to your restaurant and the demographic you are looking to target. Is speed important to your customer base or are you a more fine-dining establishment? The comfort of your seating should align with how long you want customers to stay.

Buying restaurant furniture

Each restaurant and bar will have different needs and requirements depending on the image they’re trying to present. Whatever space you are working with, it is nearly always possible to alter the ambiance of a space with careful manipulation of design elements.
Whatever interior your restaurant is looking to create, Trent Furniture can help. Call us now on 0116 2864 911.

A look back – The best event furnishings 2017/18

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Furnishing hundreds of pubs, cafés, bars and restaurants every year, it can all merge into one big project. As such, it can be nice to look back and see what has happened over the past year.

As usual, our furniture has been used in plenty of pubs, restaurants and cafés but we also see our furniture used for a whole host of other purposes.

Here are some of our favourite transformations through 2017...

The best wedding venue furniture 2017-18

Early on in 2017, we furnished a picturesque wedding venue with our fitting limewash Chiavari stacking chairs. The wedding venue dates back to the 14th century and is a barn found in Hertfordshire. The traditional wooden features of the venue worked perfectly with that of the carved chairs.

Take a look at the wedding venue furniture.

Football club furniture favourites 2017-18

Our furniture was found in numerous football clubs through last year but a particularly favourite transformation was at Eastleigh Football Club. In a bid to improve the hospitality services at the stadium, the club has been developing a new hospitality building on the North End of the stadium. Our Buckingham silver frame chairs were used in the glamorous bar and restaurant which will be open to players, supporters and sponsors.

Have a look at the football club’s development.

Indian restaurant furniture - the best choices for 2017-18

Our restaurant furniture has been used for both new and established restaurants across the country. Halfway through 2017, over 100 of our chairs and 25 of our tables were used to fully furnish a new Indian restaurant in Milton Keynes. Urban Dhaba was opened by the Mayor of Milton Keynes at an event that featured fire performers and Bollywood dancing. 

Get some inspiration for your restaurant.

Jazz bar furniture favorites 2017-18

Jazz bars are a particular favourite of ours at Trent Furniture and we were thrilled when the owner of a new café and jazz bar in Cardiff got in touch with us about ordering furniture. We’re pleased to have helped The Pomegranate fill the venue with stylish furniture to create a chic, modern décor. 

See the furniture chosen for the jazz bar.

Best street food venue furniture 2017-18

Street Feast converts disused spaces in London into unique eating and drinking environments. Street food is a growing trend and these transformed spaces are a sight to behold with smells from either cuisine imaginable filling the space. For one of their venues, furniture was needed for a special Martini Weekender event. 

Our loopback chairs and bentwood stools were propped against the main cocktail and aperitif bar at the event. Take a look here

UK commercial furniture supplier - Trent Furniture

Whatever your commercial space you are looking to furnish through 2018, Trent Furniture can help. We have a selection of tables, chairs, sofas, and stools that are available to browse.

Applying for an ECB Grant for new furniture

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The ECB (England Cricket Board) offers various funding to support Cricket Clubs in England and Wales. Whether you are looking to expand your club, improve current facilities or refurbish your clubhouse, there is a number of options with the ECB that can help facilitate the process. From their interest free loan scheme to the small grant scheme to Sport England Lottery funding and help with fundraising, your club could benefit from ECB support.

What is an ECB grant?

The EWCT Small Grant Scheme helps cricket clubs make small changes that contribute to their long-term sustainability.

This year, clubs can apply for the grant to be used to improve facilities linked to national programmes; this could mean increasing covers or redeveloping the clubhouse to provide a more family friendly environment.

The grant can be used towards the purchase of relevant materials as well as any expenses related to professional labour costs. The procurement of new furniture to increase covers in the clubhouse restaurant or new seating for the bar area to encourage family dining and match day attendance are all included under these themes so a small grant could be the help you need if you are looking to buy new furniture!

Am I eligible to apply for funding for our cricket club?

Yes any Cricket Club can submit an application by contacting their local Country Cricket Board, however priority will be given to affiliated Clubs that are that are actively engaged in the following national programmes

  • Get the Game On
  • Supporting All Stars Cricket  
  • Women’s Cricket
  • U19 Club T20

It is likely that you will be asked to provide quotations for the materials/works that you plan to purchase with the grant so you will need to contact suppliers to obtain formal quotes. Here at Trent Furniture we are more than happy to assist with this and we can provide multiple quotes if required to assist with your application.

How do I apply for an ECB grant?

First you should contact your local County Cricket Board (CCB) to request and application note. They will be able to provide instructions on how to apply and full guidance notes for completing your application.

Make sure you complete all stages thoroughly, obtain current and formal quotes from suppliers and submit your application before the deadline!

For more details and to visit the official ECB website click here


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