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  • Place of origin:

    London (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1897-1898 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Clissett, Philip, born 1817 - died 1913 (designer)
    Heal & Son Ltd (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Turned ash, with rush seat

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The architectural partnership of Smith and Brewer probably designed this chair. In 1897–8 the company designed the Passmore Edwards Settlement (now the Mary Ward Centre) in Tavistock Place in Bloomsbury, London. This was probably one of the chairs they used to furnish the building.

The chair illustrates the revival of country and crafts-inspired furniture in interiors of the time as part of the Arts and Crafts movement. Arts and Crafts furnishings were simple and robust. They were thought particularly suitable for public interiors such as schools or 'Settlements' (centres for education and social work). They also represented highly idealistic thinking about the provision of good design for all classes of society. The firm of Heals & Co.is reputed to have made the chairs at the Passmore Edwards Settlement. It is possible that Sir Ambrose Heal may have influenced the design.

Physical description

This ladderback armchair is made of ash with a rush seat. The front legs and back stiles are turned and connected by two stretchers of rounded section each, the stretchers at the front positioned lower and closer together than at the back. Flat shaped arms extend from the back stiles, widening at the end, and are supported on a ball finial on the top of the front legs. The back stiles, which have pointed finials, are joined by five rails of increasing height, forming a ladder design, each rail with a central raised top.

Place of Origin

London (possibly, made)


1897-1898 (made)


Clissett, Philip, born 1817 - died 1913 (designer)
Heal & Son Ltd (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Turned ash, with rush seat


Height: 115 cm, Width: 60.5 cm, Depth: 60 cm

Object history note

This armchair, and the matching chair, Circ. 510-1962, were given to the Museum by the National Institute for Social Work Training, then based at Mary Ward House, 5-7 Tavistock Square, London. Originally known as the Passmore Edwards Settlement and intended for social and educational use, this building was designed with a combination of residential and public spaces. The building was completed by 1899 when it featured in an article, 'The Architecture of the Passmore Edwards Settlement', by G.Ll. Morris and Esther Wood, in The Studio, Vol. XVI, February 1899, pp. 11-18. The armchair and chair were said, when acquired in 1962, to have been made by Heals for the Passmore Edwards Settlement. Similar pieces are visible in illustrations of the interior shown in the 1899 article but details of the original commission for the furniture has not yet been found.

Descriptive line

Ladderback, ash with rush seat, from an original chair by Philip Clissett and possibly made by Heal and Sons for the Passmore Edwards Settlement, British 1897-8.

Labels and date

ENGLISH: 1897-1898
Probably designed by A. Dunbar Smith and Cecil Brewer
Probably made by Heal & Son, London
Ash with a rush seat
Probably designed by the architectural partnership of Smith and Brewer, this is one of the chairs used by them to furnish the Passmore Edwards Settlement in Tavistock Place, Bloomsbury (now the Mary Ward Centre) built to their designs in 1897-1898. These chairs are reputed to have been made by Heals and, if so, they could equally have been designed by Sir Ambrose Heal and merely selected by Smith and Brewer. [1993]


Ash; Rush


Turning; Weaving




Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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