Wednesday, 18 September 2013


Oak Canopy Chair, Monarch Crown, Coat of Arms, Heavily Carved
$6,800 From Roberts Antiques at Ruby Lane;

I've always been curious about the origin of objects and as soon as I find an 'Object of Desire' I begin a discovery for it's story. The throne chair is an object which I love in all of it's forms, whether it was created for the Lord of the Manor or simply as a humble carver chair for the master of the house who carved the joint.

This one is most definitely not humble, although it is in good taste compared to some of the high Victorian gargoyle adorned examples which I have admired. Roberts Antiques who are selling it say this about it, "This oak canopy chair or throne chair is heavily carved and decorated. It is certainly one of a kind. Bought in East Texas from Mrs. Prater at Liz-Beth Antiques, who obtained it from a client in Scotland. It was said to come from an old estate in the highlands. It is oak and has wonderful and outstanding carvings. It is a reproduction of a 17th century style chair and was made around 1875. " You can read more about it on the link under the collage. I love everything about this, even the worn green velvet and would do little to it were I lucky enough to be able to purchase this. I imagine that Mrs Black would love sleeping on this!

I loved the heart shaped throne which The Red Queen sat upon in Alice.

Throne of The Red Queen
Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

We associate thrones with royalty, but their history is far older. Once they were the seat of deities.

The word throne derives from the Greek 'thronos' which means  "seat, chair"  and the early  Greek (Dios thronous) which meant the "support of the heavens". In Ancient Greek, a "thronos" was a specific but ordinary type of chair with a footstool, a high status object but not necessarily with any connotations of power. Homer wrote that the Achaens placed additional thrones in royal palaces so that the gods could be seated when they wished to be. The most famous of these thrones was the throne of Apollo in Amyclae.

Throne of Apollo at Aachen

The Greeks were not alone in making their Gods welcome with thrones set aside for their use, should they turn up and wish to sit awhile. Romans had two types of thrones, one which was intended for the Emperor and one for the Goddess Roma whose statues were seated upon thrones, which became centres of worship.

Through history thrones have been the seats of bishops, known as a 'cathedra' from the Greek for 'seat'.  The cathedra symbolizes the bishop's authority to teach the faith and to govern his flock. From the presence of this cathedra a bishop's primary church is called a 'cathedral'. 

We lived near Exeter Devon for a few years. I often visited and admired the Cathedral, especially the Bishops Throne. Photographs do not do it justice, in fact it is so large that it is impossible to get it all into one photo and show any detail. You can read more about this, and Exeter on a link at the bottom of this post. It's worth a visit if you are ever in the area. 

The wooden structure made between 1312 & 1316 stands 59 feet high,
made without metal nails or screws, only wooden pegs were used.
Photo © Copyright
Julian P Guffogg  

The Bishop's Throne, Exeter Cathedral, Devon 

In the Middle Ages in European feudal countries, monarchs often were seated on thrones, based in all likelihood on the Roman magisterial chair. These thrones were originally quite simple, especially when compared to their Asian counterparts. One of the grandest and most important was the Throne of Ivan "the Terrible". Dating from the mid-16th century, it is shaped as a high-backed chair with arm rests, and adorned with ivory and walrus bone plaques intricately carved with mythological, heraldic and life scenes. The plaques carved with scenes from the biblical account of King David's life are of particular relevance, as David was seen as the ideal for Christian monarchs.

The throne of Ivan The Terrible of Russia
photo by Stan Shebs

Some thrones were unbelievably elaborate. The throne of the Byzantine Empire even included automatons of  singing birds! I'd love to see an image of that.

One of the most famous thrones still in use by monarchs today is King Edward's Coronation Chair at Westminster Abbey. British monarchs are still crowned upon it.   The Lord Mayors of many British and Irish cities often preside over local councils from throne-like chairs.

King Edward's Chair, Westminster Abbey, London
this photograph by
Kjetil Bjørnsrud

So how did all of this equal the throne chairs which came to be made for domestic use? Good question. The first types would have been made for Lords of The Manor, such as the one from Scotland which Robert's Antiques are selling. Others, not quite so grand are from the Tudor period and can be found in churches and country houses throughout Europe.

old oak carved chair at Malmesbury Abbey

Whilst royalty has always sat on thrones I think that Victoriana further popularised the idea of the head of the family sitting in a carver which announced his status by resemblance to a throne and carried on through the years until it fell out of fashion with less formal eating habits became the norm. 

The dining room at The National Trust property, The Argory,
County Armagh ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

I really love the whimsical 'throne chairs' but ordinary carver chairs are like mini thrones for us mere mortals and are sturdy reliable chairs for everyday use about the house. You can pick up fine oak  carved examples on ebay and at all antique fairs for a song. I'm sitting on an Arts and Crafts one as I write this. Mine is very plain compared to the one which inspired this post but I love it's honesty. And no, that is not me pictured here, I am not a Tortoiseshell Cat. This is the Naughty Kitten who snuck up here, stretched out and fell fast asleep when I went to make a cup of tea. Throne chairs, in all their forms, are a perfect size for a cat!

Wiki page about Thrones:

The Bishops Throne at Exeter Cathedral


  1. Look at that naughty kitten making himself at home and who could blame him? That's one heck of an inviting chair! x

  2. The designs are beautiful! But only a cat may make them look comfy!
    p.s loving your new blog header!

    Take care

  3. King Edwards' chair fascinated me , and you speaking of the tortoiseshell kitty of course !

  4. Cats always know the best place! : )

  5. Thank you for this interesting post all about throne, Minerva. The throne of Buddha was the pedestal of the lotus flowers. I like the last chair for its simplicity and comfortableness. Thanks for your visit and becoming my Friend.


  6. I thank you for visiting my blog and thus I found yours. The history of thrones you have written about is very interesting. I have a whole lot of thoughts about the symbolism of this topic ( given the history you presented ) churning around in my brain. Oh brain is churning another fascinating topic , I foresee hours of distraction in store for me. :)

  7. My husband has wanted a throne like the ones featured here. He will never get a real one; maybe a replication, but I doubt it. But he can dream.

  8. Really interesting information! I love the green color of that velvet - such a hip, mod color in those days I would imagine.


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