A Brief History of Chesterfield sofas

We’ve been in sofa manufacture so long that it’s safe to say we know out stuff. With that in mind, we don’t think it’s in any way over the top to state that the British Chesterfield sofa is the most famous design in the world.

The Chesterfield style has been around for over 300 years in one form or another; not unlike the sofas themselves, the design style has an almost unbeatable longevity showing us there simply is no substitute for a classic sofa.

So where did the Chesterfield sofa begin?

There are plenty of theories about the origin of the Chesterfield, but most historians will tell you it began with Phillip Stanhope, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield. Unfortunately there’s not much evidence to support this other than stories of the Earl’s love for the finer things in life, including beautifully crafted fine furniture.

Back then, a Chesterfield sofa was a status symbol; if you had one you were wealthy, and you enjoyed flaunting it. Since the days of Phillip Stanhope, the Chesterfield as evolved. A few tweaks here and some amendments there mean the design of the Chesterfield we know and love today is likely far removed from those handcrafted 300 years ago.

In fact, the classic deep buttoned upholstery, the scroll fronted arms and the beautifully carved wooden bunfeet we associate with the traditional Chesterfield sofa are based on designs dating back about 150 years, not the 300 or so since the Chesterfield was born. Though by definition, any sofa with a back and arms at equal height can be called a Chesterfield sofa, regardless of it’s upholstery, design or legs.

Modern Chesterfield Sofas

Once upon a time the Chesterfield was reserved for the stuffy Gentlemen’s Clubs, libraries and homes of the wealthy who could afford them, but they were much more versatile that given credit for. The classic deep buttoned, leather Chesterfield with scroll-fronted arms is still hugely popular, there has been a surge of sofas that break the classic mold whilst still maintaining their classic heritage.

Whether it’s distressed leathers, eccentric velvets or even simple cotton upholstery, the classic Chesterfield has been given a makeover – appealing to a new audience of eager buyers. The amount of variation on offer makes the Chesterfield sofa extremely versatile, able to fit comfortably in any living space.

Traditional Chesterfields used to be firm, sometimes uncomfortable too – but modern methods of manufacture have transformed the Chesterfield into a deeply comfortable sofa fit for a King. Add a throw, like sheepskin, along with some deep, squishy cushions and you’ll be in bliss.

This is the beauty of a Chesterfield sofa; its design,  quality and style are fit for the Earl of Chesterfield and the homes of any other person around the world, regardless of their standing in the British aristocracy. 

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