Lawrence Neal Chairs


Maker of fine traditional rush seated chairs

A village craft founded by Ernest Gimson

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Welcome to this website, which I will hope will inform you about my beautiful, traditional, hand made rush seated chairs. Each step of the manufacturing process is carried out by myself, from gathering and preparing rushes cut from selected rivers locally, through the aquisition of the best traditional timbers from managed woodland, to the working of the wood and finishing of the chairs themselves. My workshop is along traditional lines, using tools and patterns some of which were used by Gimson almost a century ago. I live and work in the village of Stockton, near Rugby, Warwickshire, England.

History and Information:

Most of the chairs on this website were designed by Ernest Gimson who revived this old village craft of making ash chairs with rush seats during the Arts and Crafts movement. Philip Clissett had been making chairs at Bosbury in Herefordshire since 1838 and Gimson took lessons from him in 1890. After establishing his workshops at Daneway in Gloucestershire he encouraged Edward Gardiner, a local young man to take up chairmaking. Edward Gardiner later moved to Warwickshire and my father, Neville Neal, joined him as a pupil in 1939.

On Gardiner's death in 1958, my father Neville Neal, moved to the present workshop in Stockton. I was apprenticed to him in 1966, we worked together until his death in November 2000. I am proud to continue chairmaking in the traditional ways of my predecessors.

Gimson's aim was to prove that well designed and skillfully made chairs can be produced by village craftsmen and be comparable with the best work of the old chairmakers. The combination of English woodland timber and rushes create a unique, light but strong and lasting piece of furniture, with an honest unassuming beauty. Lightly waxed or stained they can tone with existing wooden furniture. Although mainly made in ash, oak also makes an appealing chair.

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Lawrence Neal Chairs 2019