Canopied chairs (also known as porter's chairs) were originally used in medieval England and France. They were made for hall porters to sit in while they kept watch over palaces and mansions, and screened guests who came in and out. Residents also had a hard time hearing the door knocks, so porters would meet the guests and decide if they should enter or leave. Basically, porters were the equivalent to today's modern-day bouncers. Since it could get cold while they keep watch, the high backs and enclosing sides on the chairs were designed to shield off the brunt of the chill in the air. There was usually a notch on the chair or small shelf for a lantern and the hoods on the chairs were thought to help acoustics so as to allow the porters to be as vigilant as possible.
(Photo courtesy of http://www.schoolsliaison.org.uk/kids/aston/ks1/takeaseat/takeaseat.htm)
Hall porters had to be by the front door at all times, so much so that they would even dine and sleep there. This is why sometimes there were drawers under them for supplies, or even to keep hot coals under their seats to keep them warm.
(Photo courtesy of http://tywkiwdbi.blogspot.com/2012/05/evolution-of-porters-chair.html)
16th-century France had another use for them as well. The chairs were made of cane or wicker and known as "guérites" ("sentry"). They were used to seat the elderly and invalids in order to protect them from cold draughts.
(Photo courtesy of http://www.chatfielddesign.com/blog/canopy-chair)
Once the latch-key became popular in the mid-19th and 20th centuries, hall porters faded into obsolescence. This plus interior climate control and having less servants fazed them out completely.
Although porters were fazed out, the chairs never quite died. Some use them for decor, others use them for restaurant and bar seating. But probably one of the smartest uses for them is as beach chairs. Hooded wicker versions were used often back then and some still retain their popularity on the beaches of Germany today. The fact that they shade you from the sun and the air makes for a pleasant experience.
(C.1906. Photo of Scheveningen Beach, near the Hague. Photo courtesy of http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/canopy-chairs-or-porters-chair-112117)
What We Have That's Similar
This is our luxurious Chambord chair, and it's very much a replica of the historic canopied chairs.
Item #: Item #: chambordSD-VC-CH. Dimensions: 46"W x 39.5"D x 40.5"H. Pillow is included. CL Price: $1299.
As always, we're here from 9am to 6pm every day. So come on down and visit!