Late Elizabethan Oak Armchair circa 1580 - 1600

Late Elizabethan Oak Armchair circa 1580 - 1600

Late Elizabethan Oak Armchair circa 1580 - 1600

English Littlecote House Berkshire c. 1580 to c. 1600
Late Elizabethan Oak Low Armchair, circa 1580 to 1600.

Of rare and unusual caqueteuse design. Having a narrow back with nulled upper frieze rail above a single panel back with a nulled arcade surmounted by roundel and dart quatrefoils.

With bold splayed arms joined by cup and cover turned uprights above a narrow splayed twin plank seat. Above joined scroll carved seat rails with further cup and cover turned legs and bold high stretchers.

The Armchair has an exceptional patina, colour and surface with signs of intense use. Including candle or rush light burns to the left edge of the seat and the corresponding arm above. The end of this arm also exhibits eroded and patinated sap wood whilst the right arm has significant signs of use of both sawing and chopping work !

The seat was originally fitted before the arms were affixed in a 'dropped in' manner - at the left edge the end grain timber has burst away, this is also an ancient highly patinated loss.

Their is a strong fashion for Elizabethan Low chairs, both in single and armchair format, this was possibly made to suit an adolescent, as its height does not appear to be significantly altered.


Contemporary inventory brand "J P" to upper rear rail, traces of old paper label beneath and inscription on the underside of the seat, with 'Popham Esq' still readable.


This Elizabethan Armchair should be considered for Object Of the Year as it is an extremely rare item in its own right. It has an impeccable and historically important provenance, being associated with Elizabethan England's leading magistrate and his families' ongoing association with the forming of Britain from the Commonwealth period onwards.

It is a piece of furniture with immense character and presence, due its true 'patina' with a remarkable colour and surface. An item that any true connoisseur would love to be associated with.


This is a highly unusual and sophisticated form of late Elizabethan Low Armchair. Stylistically the fashion for this type of chair in England is primarily from the last quarter of the 16th Century and into the first quarter of the 17th Century.

Littlecote House is on the Berkshire/Wiltshire borders, being relatively close to Salisbury, only 34 miles away. Where there is a strong stylistic preference for the "caquetoire of caqueteuse" style, as seen in the Armchairs from the Humphrey Beckham workshops.

This Armchair represents a very rare survival of a highly unusual form of chair with a full and original provenance to the house and family it was made for. It has resided in its original setting for 400 years before moving, to the the family of the second owners of the house until more recent times.

It offers a virtually unique insight into contemporary Elizabethan furnishings, of the style and standard that was preferred by the height of Elizabethan society and would have been part of Sir John Popham's original furnishings from after his purchase of Littlecote House in 1585.


Liitlecote House, Berkshire, family seat of the Popham's from 1585 until 1922.

Sir John Popham purchased Littlecote House in 1585 from the Darrells. He was a high court Judge who presided over the trials of Mary Queen of Scots, Sir Walter Raleigh and the Gunpowder plotters including Guy Fawkes, sentencing both Mary and Fawkes to death.

He was appointed Lord Chief Justice in 1592, a position he held until his death in 1607.

During the Civil War period Littlecote was a major Parliamentarian garrison under his son Sir Francis and both his grandsons held commissions in the parliamentary army, with Colonel Alexander Popham commanding a regiment, whose buff tunics and weapons are part of the important Littlecote armoury now owned by the nation and still displayed in situ in the Great Hall at Littlecote.

The house and estates were them acquired from the Popham family in 1922 by Sir Ernest Salter Wills, of the Wills Tobacco family, whose family lived there until 1985. When Sir Ernest's descendent Sir Seton Wills sold the house and its complete contents to Peter de Savary.

There was a dispersal auction held at Littlecote House in late 1985 after the new acquisition. Where this Armchair (Lot 418) and numerous other original and acquired furnishings were sold. Seton Wills proceeded to repurchase numerous original pieces that had always furnished the house, this Armchair being one of them.

The underneath of the seat has a hand written inscription in what looks like a faded paint or varnish, the name Popham is clearly readable still. Sir Seton stated this Armchair, alongside other 16th Century items of furniture were part of the original inventory of Littlecote at the time of his grandfathers purchase in 1922
To join our mailing list, submit your details below