Pair of side chairs

Ref: 1425
  • Designer / Maker

    Designed by Ernest Gimson (1864-1919) in 1904

    The manufacture attributed to Edward Gardiner (died 1958)

  • Detail

    Stained ash (?), with original rush seat

    106 x 46 x 40 cm

    English, first quarter of twentieth century

  • Literature

    Annette Carruthers, Gimson and Barnsley: A catalogue of drawings by Ernest Gimson, Sidney Barnsley and other designers of the Arts and Crafts Movement, Cheltenham, 1984, p. 23, 1941:222:169 (see right)

  • Collection

    Private collection

  • Notes

    At the beginning of his career, Gimson manufactured chairs himself, but soon after going into partnership with Ernest Barnsley, he put chair-making to one side. After his move from Pinbury to Sapperton in 1903, Gimson began thinking of ways to develop the chair-making side of the business. He sent his design for a ladderback chair to a manufacturer in High Wycombe, but although the rush seats were excellent, the timber was coarse and porous and the turned work unsatisfactory.

    Looking for an alternative, Gimson visited the sawmill at Daneway, run by Mr Gardiner who had previously farmed the land at Pinbury Park; it was he who suggested that his son Edward should do some turning for Gimson.

    The young Edward Gardiner taught himself wood turning by reading manuals, talking to William Bucknell, wood worker and blacksmith at the nearby village of Water Lane, and watching others at work, particularly the wood-turners at Workman Brothers at Woodchester, near Stroud. Gimson was so impressed with the quality of Gardiner’s work that he took him on as a partner in the chairmaking business from 1904.

    Gardiner left Gloucestershire in 1913 with the intention of setting up a workshop in Warwickshire. His plans were interrupted by the outbreak of World War I in 1914 and it wasn’t until 1920, when Sidney Barnsley wrote to ask him whether he would make 60 chairs for the Memorial Library at Bedales school, Hampshire, that he started work again.

    This note is based on:

    A chair of this pattern, manufactured in 1948, is in the collection of the Leicestershire Museums; see Annette Carruthers, Ernest Gimson and the Cotswold Group of Craftsmen, Leicester, 1978, C.10.  Another, made in 1971 by Gardiner’s successor Neville Neal, belongs to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (CIRC. 119-1971).  A further six, dated circa 1930 and which had descended through the family of Harry Peach, founder of Dryad of Leicester, were offered at Bonhams (London), 16 May 2006, lot 177.

    Eight comparable chairs, made by Gimson himself around 1900, are at Stoneywell, the cottage built for Sydney and Jeannie Gimson; see Barley Roscoe, ‘Stoneywell and the Gimsons – Furniture and Family History, Furniture History L (2014), p. 353 and figs 5, 6 and 8.