The Orkney Hooded Chair

 

 

A style of chair that goes back centuries. The iconic Orkney Hooded Chair was traditionally made from driftwood washed up from the sea. Timber in Orkney is scarce so islanders would use other materials to make furniture.

The earliest version of the chair was more like a low round stool covered with straw.  From this it developed into a low chair by the addition of a straw back.  The height of the back was originally around 2 feet high.  From here the back of the chair became hooded – possibly to shelter from draughts.  The warmth from the hearth would envelope the occupant of the seat keeping in the war.  As well as an Orkney Hooded Chair it is also known as the Orkney Warming Chair.

Can see the woman is sat on a hooded chair

Can see the woman is sat on a hooded chair

The seat in early times remained round and covered with straw.

The design was taken forward by a native of one of Orkney’s more northerly islands who first made the chair with a square wooden seat, no straw covered this new seat.   Timber as starting to be brought into Orkney and had become more available.  Around this period ( late 18th  early19th Century) the drawer would also have been added.  This style has not changed that much to this day.

Weaving the back of The Orkney Chair

Weaving the back of The Orkney Chair

After 1890 the style became more standard, they were produced on a more commercial basis.  Although these chairs were really just ‘one offs’ and each was unique.

 

 

This beautiful yet basic chair made by fishermen and farmers today can be seen in some of the richest houses of the world.  An Orkney chair is part of the furniture collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

 

 

Lady Eliza D'Oyley Burroughs standing beside an Orkney chair at her home on the island of Rousay, Orkney, about 1900.

Lady Eliza D’Oyley Burroughs standing beside an Orkney chair at her home on the island of Rousay, Orkney, about 1900.

Between 1910 – 1915 we see the first inset or cord type seats, replacing the solid wood ones.    The style of the backs particularly in the outer isles were more rounded.

 

Good enough for a Queen

The Orkney Chair was a particular favourite of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.  Also Queen Victoria had one.

 

Tagged

About Amanda Moffet

I run www.scotclans.com with Rodger Moffet. Live in Edinburgh and love travelling around Scotland gathering stories.

View all posts by Amanda Moffet →

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *