The Chair

Ellen sat still on the chair and stared out of the window of the drawing room above the shop. The cobbled street had a sheen from the recent rain shower. The sky, the small sliver she could see above the rooftops and chimney stacks, was now cloudless and blue. Ellen felt oppressed by the soot coated brickwork of the terraced houses on the far side of the street. As she looked at this scene, the image in her mind was the view from another window in another place and time in her life.

A decade had passed since she sat in the nursery on the chair reading to the young boy and girl. Then, she looked from the tall bay window over the wonderful gardens of the mansion and the undulating yellow corn that moved like the sea. She had watched scattered white clouds herded by the wind across an endless sky. Sometimes when a deer boldly walked from the trees, or a kestrel hovered over a morning mist she called the children from their play to stand beside her to look.

When Ellen informed her employer she was soon to marry, the Lady of the Manor asked her to choose a memento as a gift in gratitude for her service. Ellen chose the nursery chair to remind her of the children and the views from the nursery.

On the morning of her departure, as her betrothed loaded Ellen’s belongings on the cart he admired the chair: the rich mahogany frame, the silk cloth upholstery. Then he recognised the mark. ‘Thomas Chippendale’.

“I believe this is a quality chair of value.”

Ellen smiled. “No, my dearest it’s priceless.”


The prompt for this story was to write about something shown on the tapestry that hangs in the room where my writing group meet. I chose the chair designed by Thomas Chippendale who was born in Otley, Yorkshire. The story is entirely fictional but my great grandmother was a governess in a house in Bexley, Kent. She met my great grandfather , Alexander, who was visiting the house as the assistant to an interior designer. At the time my great grandfather was studying interior design at London Art College. Two generations later I would study interior design in Edinburgh.

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