Windsor Chair FAQS - All About The Design That Inspired The Darwin

Windsor Chair FAQS - All About The Design That Inspired The Darwin

The Windsor chair is an undoubtedly design classic that endures throughout the changes in trends that we see constantly in interior design. From stunning antiques to striking modern styles, it’s not only easy to spot a Windsor chair, but it’s easy to appreciate their longevity too. 

Our very own Darwin chair here at Gabriella James is a twist upon the traditional Windsor chair, so in this article we’ll be exploring a little more about this classic chair type. 

What is a Windsor chair?

A Windsor chair is a chair that features a solid wooden seat (usually crafted from oak or elm), into which the legs and the back of the chair (with associated spindles) are round-tenoned or pushed into drilled holes. This construction is what sets it apart from other chairs with continuous leg and back uprights.  

What are the origins of the Windsor chair?

Whilst it’s hard for furniture historians to pinpoint exactly where and when the first Windsor chairs were made, there are references to ‘Windsor seats’ as far back as 1718. What we do know is that manufacture began in earnest in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire in the 18th century, and they were shipped into London via the then market town of Windsor. It’s believed that these chairs were initially used outside, before being brought into homes. 

As Windsor was a place that became a centre for trade, it’s thought that this is where the chair derives its name. 

What are the different types and styles of Windsor chairs?

Because the Windsor chair is a manufacturing method and not a particular look as such, there are several back shapes that Windsor chairs can take. This includes: 

Bow back

Spindles that reach up to a curved top piece of wood. 

Fan back

The space between spindles grows wider as they reach the top of the high back.

Bird cage 

Similar to a fan back, but with armrests incorporated. 

Continuous bow 

This is a bow backed chair that rounds around to incorporate armrests.

Comb back 

Featuring half height armrests and a taller back section to support the head.

Wheel backs

Designed with a cartwheel incorporated into the back of the chair and favoured by pubs in particular. 

Captains chair

A half height back that curves around the body to provide arm rests. 

It’s the captain's chair that inspires many modern iterations of the Windsor chair, and was the design muse for our very own Darwin chair. 

What materials are traditionally used in making Windsor chairs?

Windsor chairs are constructed from wood, with the option of a fabric seat pad integration with the main wooden seat. Ash, white oak, or hickory wood are typical materials used to make Windsor chairs, and it’s ash that we use to ensure our own Windsor-inspired Darwin chair is traditionally crafted. 

Are Windsor chairs comfortable?

Windsor chairs, particularly those with seat pads, can be an extremely comfortable option, particularly if you’re looking for a dining chair that looks stylish but also supports you while you’re at the table. Those with armrests give you something to sit back and relax in too. 

How do you care for and maintain a Windsor chair?

To start with, we’d recommend investing in chairs that have been well stained or waxed to protect the wood, and from there you can ensure your Windsor chair remains at its best by keeping it away from direct sunlight, and out of damp areas. 

Are Windsor chairs suitable for modern interior design?

The beauty of the Windsor chair is that it’s completely timeless, and both traditional dark wood chairs and the modern chair designs that they’ve inspired in more recent years can fit in homes with a variety of decor styles and colour schemes. Customisable fabric seat pads also add to the way in which a Windsor chair can be suited to different palettes, with neutral woods making these colours and patterns the star of the show. 

Discover the Windsor chair with a modern twist 

At Gabriella James, we’re proud to have crafted our own take on the Windsor design, and it’s a beloved chair that we call The Darwin. It’s an iconic design, hand-carved from sustainably sourced English Ash, which has been specially selected for the depth of natural grain. 

When it comes to choice, you’re spoilt for it with our Darwin chairs: the naturally soft seat is traditionally upholstered in the iconic Primavera fabric by Josef Frank. Our specialist polishing team on hand to hand-oil, stain or wax the Darwin to any natural shade, so that it can match your cabinetry and overall interior. 

As part of our Bespoke Service, we can upholster the seats in your choice of designer fabric, either from our own collection, or one of your own choosing. All seat heights can be individually adjusted too, ensuring your comfort for years to come. 

Shop our Darwin chairs today, or get in touch to find out more about our bespoke modern Windsor furniture.