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Whatever Happened to the Windsor Writing Chair?

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accent chairs,dining chairs,traditional chairs,wood chairs

The Windsor chair – a kind of writing chair not unlike those used in schools today – made its debut in America in the 1720s, and was very popular among the urban gentry of the time, but has since fallen out of fashion.

And, that’s too bad, because they were pretty sweet chairs. They featured a sturdy writing platform (always on the right, of course) and some even had storage under the platform and/or below the seat for writing supplies. So, what happened?

A Winning Windsor Reputation

As the name suggests, the Windsor writing chair was popular with the English aristocracy well before it made its way to the U.S., but when it got here it achieved rock-star status in the furniture world thanks to Thomas Jefferson.

As the story goes, ol’ Thommy J. penned the Declaration of Independence in a Windsor writing chair, albeit one he had modified by adding a swivel on casters – effectively making it the most famous office chair in history.

Word got around that the Windsor chair was favored by intellectual heavyweights, which boosted its cache. Anybody who was anybody had to have one, and by the end of the 18th century factories were producing them for America’s new elite – and they weren’t cheap.

In that regard, some things never change.

The Windsor Wonder Wanes

The thing was, these chairs were kind of awkward. They were kind of big and the writing platform didn’t fold or detach, which meant they needed a good amount of space.

Then, of course, people had other options. Writing desks were often cheaper, or folks would just do their writing at the kitchen table. There wasn’t really a need for that kind of specialty furniture in the average home.

Windsor Reimagined

These days, you have to go pretty far out of your way – and pay a handsome ransom – to get a handmade chair, and that’s really the only way they make Windsor writing chairs now, as they are not mass produced.

But, the base Windsor design remains very popular and can be found in all kinds of styles and colors, as you can see to the right.

This top-selling Windsor chair by Carolina Cottage comes in four different finishes. 

This top-selling, top-rated chair from Boraam Industries comes in a set of two and is crafted in solid hardwood. 

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