The Tale of the Chesterfield

chesterfield history

Image via Homedit

The history of the Chesterfield is said to have begun with Lord Phillip Stanhope, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield. Apart from being well respected as a writer and politician, Lord Stanhope was also quite the trendsetter. During his time, he requested a local craftsman to create a furniture piece — not just any furniture piece — but one that enabled a gentleman like himself to sit comfortably in an upright position without wrinkling his garment. Thus, following his orders, the Chesterfield was made with deep buttoned upholstery, rolled arms and equal back and arm height. The Chesterfield was not just any sofa – it represented a refined way of seating, encompassing the manners that a man should possess during the Earl’s time.

Just before the Earl passed in 1883, his godson Dayrolles came to visit and enquire after the old man’s health. At his death bed, Stanhope directed his personal butler to give Dayrolles a chair. Despite much protest from others, the butler kept his word and gave Dayrolles the armchair. It is then assumed that Dayrolles’ acquaintances, having seen and admired the first original Chesterfield armchair sitting in his home, commissioned similar chairs for themselves. Here began the evolution of the Chesterfield, as more and more of them were produced and displayed in homes.

From here on in, the Chesterfield flourished as an emblem of British style. At the mention of the Chesterfield, one would associate it with formally attired gentlemen in darkly-lit studies, sipping brandy and smoking cigars. The Chesterfield played a key role in the Victorian era, where gentlemen would relax while their wives sat in chairs crafting needlepoint. Beyond this era, the Chesterfield became a fixture to palaces, business offices, hotels, restaurants, gentleman’s clubs and private homes. The Chesterfield represented elegance, class and the elite at the time, as well as providing a balance of comfort and sophistication — a remaining characteristic that had been successfully passed from generation to generation since the first Chesterfield ordered by the Earl.

modern chesterfield history

Image via DecorologyLittle Green Notebook

Today, the Chesterfield continues to exude elegance, luxury and class. However, it is no longer only limited to the elites, but much sought after for modern homes and businesses. And no longer is it limited to traditional brown leather; the Chesterfield is now renewed in a wide range of retro colours and velvets such as: red, peacock, amethyst, tangerine, heritage and gold. This rebirth of the much loved icon appeals to many antique enthusiasts, looking to infuse retro vibes into their space, and yet pay homage to the classic Chesterfield — a timeless, classic investment piece that many continue to adore and admire today.

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