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Stoneywell and the Orkney Chair: A Perfect Marriage

When two design disciplines meet perfectly the results can be something spectacular. This is the case with Stoneywell, a property designed by the furniture designer Ernest Gimson in the Arts and Crafts style, and the Orkney chair which encompasses the ethos of the Arts and Crafts movement.

Charnwood Forest, Leicester

Setting the Scene

10 miles outside of Leicester you will find the beautiful Charnwood Forest, in which sits Stoneywell, a National Trust property designed in the Arts and Craft style. The series of cottages in this area were all designed by Ernest Gimson for his brother Sydney as a summer residence.

The house still retains its original features, which have been restored as they were in the 1950’s by the National Trust, as well as a range of originally designed furniture pieces from the Arts and Crafts movement. The property itself is set into the surrounding limestone which somewhat dictated the layout.

Although the property itself is only 3 storeys, due to the design each storey is split into levels, making the property feel much bigger than it is.

Stoneywell National Trust Property Details

Ernest Gimson’s Style and Influence

Ernest Gimson designed many of the furniture pieces within the property himself, making it truly unique. The second picture from the left, above, is a chair specifically designed for the family which still stands in the kitchen. Many of the chairs in the property were also designed by Gimson, and as each was produced by hand, no two chairs are the same, some being shorter, and some being wider. The best example of this are the ladder back chairs in the kitchen which are all slightly different, which only adds to the charm.

One of the main influences on the property was a meeting between the designer, Gimson, and prominent activist for the Arts and Crafts movement, William Morris. Gimson, who had an industrial background, was so taken by the thoughts of Morris, that this is where his interest in hand crafts sprung. Throughout the house there is a nod to Morris, with the use of prints and carvings.

Historical Images of The Orkney Chair

So where does the Orkney chair fit into this story?

In the sitting room, standing alone, by a window is a tall, hooded, wicker chair. Your eye is automatically drawn to the piece, as it has an air of importance due to its structure. Orkney chairs are hand crafted, which is why these are relevant to the overall ethos of Stoneywell. As the name suggests it comes from the series island off the North-eastern Scottish coast.

The piece started as a simple straw stool, developing into a low chair, and eventually seeing the addition of the hooded top for protection from draughts. By the early 20th Century a range of shapes and sizes were being produced with the inclusion of a small draw in some. The design itself is very similar to a Porters chair, which kept draughts out in the same way, however traditional the materials differed.

A modern take on the Orkney Chair

The design itself, being traditional, is not always appropriate for modern day interiors however it has evolved overtime. Mixing with a range of styles and the basic forms can still be seen in designs more frequently used today. Hoods, high backs, the use of wicker and low wooden frames are elements which we are all use to and it is clear from the pieces above why we are all still fond of these styles.



First 7 images taken by and belonging to Payler-Carpenter, A. (2016)

Colour Beautiful Things (2013) The Orkney chair [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 17/06/16]

Craft Scotland (Unknown) Orkney Chair with hood and draw [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 24/06/15].

Furniture and Wood Shavings (2011) Orkney Chairs [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 24/06/16].

Houzz (Unknown) The Bias Collection [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 17/06/16].

Pinterest (2015) Carl Gustav Easy Chair [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 24/06/16]

Potter Wright & Webb (2012) The Orkney Chair [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 24/06/15].

Trend Design Magazine (Unknown) An Antique Orkney [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 17/06/16].

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