Lawrence Neal’s chairs are based on designs by Ernest Gimson who revived the 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 Lawrence’s father, Neville Neal, joined him as a pupil in 1939.
On Gardiner’s death in 1958, Lawrence’s father Neville Neal, moved to the present workshop in Stockton. Lawrence was apprenticed to him in 1966, and they worked together until his death in November 2000.
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.
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