Specialists in period antique oak furniture of the 16th, 17th and 18th century,
Windsor chairs, early tapestries and other interesting objects.
The medieval market town of Burford is well known for its picturesque High Street, made up of a variety of fifteenth and sixteenth century stone and timber framed properties. Burford as a village has a small mention in the domesday book of 1086, but by the end of the eleventh century a charter was granted allowing property to be leased and a market held. By the fourteenth century, mercers and craftsmen had come to the town, which was well on its way to becoming one of the most famous wool towns of the Cotswolds.
A packhorse bridge, built over the river Windrush, added to Burford's importance, being part of the major south to north routes from Salisbury to Chipping Campden and Bristol to Banbury. The east to west routes of London to Gloucester and Worcester were equally well served. This communication crossroads helped build Burford's corn and wool trade, which by the beginning of the fifteenth century had made Burford one of the four most prosperous towns in England. It was here, in 1555, that Simon Wysdom (a successful mercer) decided to build a centre for his growing business empire.
Today, behind a grand Georgian façade, is Wysdom Hall, one of the most important medieval houses in Burford. Built around a narrow central courtyard are jettied structures with fine oak bressumers; an archway to the east leads to gardens and Simon Wysdom's wool stores. The Hall still retains many original and interesting features, including a panelled room of 1555 carved with Wysdom's initials. It was here, as Alderman, that he welcomed Queen Elizabeth I to the town in 1574.
Wysdom died in 1586 or 1587, and the building, largely untouched, continued to be used for trade until around 1720 when Richard Whitehall, another mercer, bought the house and added the grand façade. Throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the Hall housed a number of mercers' businesses. In the 1840s and 1850s, it was used as a grocery store. John and Philip Howell, cabinet makers, traded from the Hall through the 1860s and 1870s, using the wool store at the back as a workshop. The Sharp family were boot, furniture and china dealers, who succeeded the Howells, and must have done a little Undertaking as there is a faded sign stating ‘Funerals Furnished' which is painted on the stone pillar beside the shop door.
In 1935 the house was sold to Marjorie Warner, whose son Roger ran a very successful antiques business until 1987. When Roger sold the Hall, the front rooms were separated and let to David Pickup, who also ran a well-respected antiques business, whilst the rest of the property was used as a bed and breakfast undertaking.
To bring Wysdom Hall's story up to the present time, David Pickup left the shop in 2015 to continue dealing from his home and Tim Wilson, a collector and dealer in early furniture, moved into the Hall which he first visited as a young 'mercer' 40 years' earlier.
I joined my father in the family antique business in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, where the shop stocked mahogany, walnut and oak furniture, together with longcase clocks, which were a particular favourite of my father's.
I soon found I had a natural feel for early furniture, understanding its construction and how the early carpenters and turners developed furniture making from the mid-sixteenth to the mid-eighteenth century – the 200 years that is called 'The Age of Oak'.
I grew up in the town of Worksop, which together with the surrounding villages, was the home of Windsor chair-making in the early to mid-nineteenth century. These beautifully proportioned chairs, made in highly figured ash or burr yew wood, fascinated me and my passion has led me to researching both the regional style, together with the history of the chair-making families, building up a substantial stock (or collection!) along the way.
I took over the business in the early 1980s, and started exhibiting at the country's major antique fairs, often serving on the vetting committees examining the early furniture. Two distinguished dealers of the day proposed me for the British Antique Dealers Association, and I became its youngest member.
I moved to a larger shop in nearby Bawtry, Yorkshire, which was once an eighteenth century merchant’s house, together with the adjoining coach house. I meticulously restored the two properties which were featured in the publication 'Period Home Magazine', together with furniture of the period.
The enjoyment of restoring early buildings led me to acquiring a seventeenth century cruck-framed manor house, together with its Victorian farmyard. I started to restore the manor, but the farmyard looked deserted and forlorn, so I decided to put the animals back. My love for early and rare furniture spilled over into my choice of farmyard stock, and I chose the rare breeds whose ancestry went back to the early days of farming. Over the years the farm and its animals expanded and I started a small farm shop called The Ginger Pig.
Years later, the Ginger Pig has grown, moving its farming base to the North Yorkshire moors and its retail outlets to London, where it owns eight butcher’s shops. As the business grew, a management team evolved, taking over the day to day running of the business, allowing me to resume my first love – early oak.
I was fortunate to be able to acquire Wysdom Hall on Burford High Street, a shop I first visited with my father in the mid-1970s, when he came to visit Roger Warner, the renowned antique dealer.
Monday to Saturday 9.30 to 5pm
Sundays by appointment
For more information on the items and prices please email or phone the numbers above
Early Oak at Wysdom Hall
No. 115 High Street (East), Burford, Oxfordshire, OX18 4RG
All content on this website is copyright Tim Wilson and Early Oak Furniture at Wysdom Hall, 2018.
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Phone: 01993 822 555