The Suffolk Chair Collection was started in 2006 to help preserve and celebrate the chairmaking traditions of East Anglia – in particular the Ball Back chairs of Suffolk. The Collection consists of over 50 original early to mid 19th century chairs. These have been digitally archived by local photographer Doug Atfield. The archive is now used by the Spring Festival as a design reference resource, allowing The Suffolk Chair Collection to offer clients a bespoke commissioning service for new editions of classic Suffolk Ball Back chairs. The Collection also offers a commissioning service for a range of new contemporary Suffolk Chairs made by local craftsmen. These are listed and illustrated below.
Commissioning a Suffolk Ball Back or Contemporary Chair
If you would like to order a chair or find out more about commissioning a new edition of a Ball Back chair or a contemporary Suffolk chair please contact the Festival office: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chair : Bespoke Ball Backs
Makers: Jim Parsons Price: from £725 for carvers; from £595 for side chairs Delivery Time : approx 2 months Materials : Suffolk elm, English oak, East Anglian fruitwoods and yew – locally sourced timbers can be specified.
For a truly unique gift ! The Suffolk Chair Collection offers a commissioning service to customers. Using its original 19th century chairs as a design reference resource, clients can re-edition original chairs or combine elements of different 19th century chairs to create your own unique contemporary Ball Back design.
Maker: Various Price: £1,450 Delivery Time: approx 2-3 months Materials: Suffolk elm seat with frame made from quarter sawn air dried English oak sourced from trees at Great Glemham Farms.
The Akenfield has been designed to celebrate the work of Suffolk writer Ronald Blythe. Each chair is made by hand using local air dried timber and incorporates a drawer for an original hardback copy of Ronald Blythe’s famous book Akenfield. The author lived and worked in Great Glemham briefly in the 1960s before moving to his present home in Wormingford. Several characters in the book were drawn from the village. The Akenfield chair is a Limited Edition. Only fifty are being made – one for the author and a further 49 representing the number characters in the book.
*As featured in Masterpieces ~ Art of East Anglia at The Sainsbury Centre of Visual Arts.
Maker: Jim Parsons Price: from £695 for carvers; from £495 for side chairs Delivery Time: approx 2-3 months Materials: Suffolk elm seat with frame made from quarter sawn air dried English oak sourced from trees at Great Glemham Farms.
The Southwold is a flat seated Ball Back with a maritime influence in the back top rail, which runs flush with the tops of the uprights. The extra bracing between the front and rear legs offers additional strength, while the off-set side arms on the carver also allow for a wider seat. Chairs can be made individually or as sets for kitchen dining tables. Curved seats and French polishing are also available at extra charge.
Maker: Jim Parsons Price: from £795 Delivery Time: Approx 2-3 months Materials: frame and legs made from Suffolk ash; seat made from Suffolk elm.
The Wenhaston is one of Jim Parsons’ signature chair designs. Made from locally sourced timber, it is a contemporary interpretation of the classic Windsor carver/armchair. The curved ash components to the upper frame and the stretchers between the legs are steam-bent. All parts of the chair are hand cut and trimmed. The seats are made from English elm sourced from East Anglian trees where possible and again finished by hand, making the Wenhaston exceptionally comfortable. Also available in hand painted finishes.
Note : Festival Settles can also be made to order. These have a similar frame and seat to the Wenhaston chairs, but are designed to accommodate 3 – 6 people. Made with local Suffolk ash and Great Glemham oak, prices range from £1,450 - £4,850 depending upon size and design.
Maker: Jim Parsons Price: from £395 Delivery Time: approx 2-3 months Materials: frame and legs made from Suffolk ash; seat made from English elm seat
The Sandling was created by Jim Parsons in 2011 as a hall or kitchen side chair. Made from locally sourced timber, it has a fresh contemporary look but also retains great comfort. The seat and back are designed to support the back, allowing the chair to serve equally as a hall chair or a kitchen / dining chair. The curved components to the stretchers between the legs are made from split steam-bent ash. All parts of the chair are hand cut and trimmed. The Sandling is also available in hand painted finishes.
Maker: Jim Parsons Price: from £325 Delivery Time: approx 2-3 months Materials: frame and legs made from Suffolk ash; seat made from English elm seat
The Cransford stool was created by Jim Parsons in 2013 in response to a client enquiry. Made from locally sourced ash and elm it is intended to serve as a kitchen / bar stool – but can be used in hallways, bedrooms and bathrooms. The seat is made from elm and is finished with shallow chiseling. The legs and stretchers are made from ash. All parts of the chair are hand cut and trimmed.
Maker: Dylan Pym Price: from £125 Delivery Time: approx 4 weeks Materials: seat and legs made from Suffolk oak
The Polstead Folding Stool is one of Dylan Pym’s signature chair designs. Made from locally sourced, air dried timber, it is available in golden or brown English oak. The stools are easy to store, either on a peg or propped against a support. A forged iron latch and bracing keep the chair stable when opened, making it ideal for use in the kitchen or in work spaces.
Note: Stool to used as a seat only. Not suitable for use as a stepladder.
Maker: Raymond Hopkins Price: from £85 to £985 Delivery Time: approx 6 weeks Materials: seats made from oak/ash/elm; legs from oak/ash/cedar/yew.
The seats of Glemham Dairy Stools and Suffolk Benches are made from air dried oak and ash harvested from woodland at Great Glemham Farms in the Upper Alde Valley of Suffolk. Ash, oak, yew and cedar are used to make the legs. All are made to order and are priced individually. Benches can be made to measure from 18cm to 50cm wide, 30cm to 50cm high and 100cm to 450cm long.
Maker: Raymond Hopkins Price: from £145 Delivery Time: approx 2 months Materials: seats made from Great Glemham oak; legs / uprights made from oak, cedar, hawthorn, hazel, ash, holly, yew
The Irish Stools & Hedge Chairs take inspiration from the traditions of chair making in rural Ireland, which often relied upon off-cuts and small sections of wood harvested from scrub and hedgerows. Each stool or chair is a unique piece, made from hand-selected pieces of wood found in the woodyard at White House Farm in Great Glemham and in nearby woodland and hedgerows.
Maker: Dan Hussey. Price: from £1900. Delivery Time: Approx 3 months. Materials: seat and frame made from steam-bent ash sourced in Suffolk.
The High Back Chair is Dan Hussey's largest chair, with complex steam-bent components. Each High Back Chair is unique, with slight variations in form and height, varying according to the wood and commission. The series is a limited edition, with only a handful of High Backs being made.