During the Elizabethan era, the furniture in a person's home was an important symbol of his status. Elizabethan chairs were elaborately designed and were mainly seen only in the homes of those who were very wealthy. These chairs were built in several different styles, but each had a very intricate design. They were not built so much with comfort in mind, but instead to show the unique workmanship of those who created them.
The Glastonbury chair was named for the Abbott of Glastonbury. These chairs were the 16th century version of today's wooden folding chairs. They were made completely of wood and the entire frame folded for easy storage or moving them from room to room. Some styles of this chair had slanted arms that were slightly wider toward the bottom, with an elbow-shape that gave a resting place for the arms while sitting.
Elizabethan Joined Chairs
This chair had a more substantial appearance to it. It may have been frequently used at each end of a long dining table for the heads of the household to sit in. The joined chair had a high back that had a variety of designs carved in it. The seat and base was squared and the arms were slanted. This chair also had a built in low foot rest going across the front of the base. Elizabethan joined chairs were usually made of oak.
Elizabethan X Chair
The Elizabethan X chair was one of the more comfortable chairs of this era. This chair was most commonly seen in the homes of the nobility. It was made of wood, but was covered with fabric. The base was wood, and it had a seat that was padded with a thick upholstered cushion. The back of the chair was medium height and was also covered with fabric. This chair almost always included a matching ottoman for resting the feet on.
Turned chairs were quite possibly the most uncomfortable of Elizabethan chairs. This chair was made entirely of wood, and was rather short and small. It was handmade by turning the wood on a lathe. Turned chairs had only 3 legs and were triangular in shape. The back was a large spindle with three smaller spindles on each side. The arms were also made of spindles slanted downward and the seat was narrow and triangle-shaped.