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Our competition winners

We launched a nationwide competition in March this year to find pieces of furniture with unique and intriguing family histories.

To mark the start of the competition, Furniture Village recently searched the country to find the piece of furniture that had remained in continuous use by a single family for the longest period of time, whether it was in their living room, bedroom or dining room. Research led to the discovery of a four poster bed in Gloucestershire which had been in the Berkeley family of Berkeley Castle for fifteen generations. After finding an item with such a fascinating history, we wanted to give our customers the chance to tell the story of treasured furniture in their own homes.

After receiving an extensive number of entries from across the UK, Christine Westlake from Braunton, Exeter, was selected as one of the winners for the story of her grandmother’s handmade ottoman, and has received £500 worth of vouchers to spend at Furniture Village.

The history of the ottoman

This small ottoman was crafted by Christine’s grandmother, Olive, during the Second World War. A founding member of the local Women’s Institute at the time, Olive entered a competition the club was holding for the best piece of furniture made from an original ‘old orange box’. Olive’s artistic license resulted in her building a small ottoman, adding feet, padding and beautifully covering it with fabric, which successfully won her first prize.

Christine recalls fond memories of the ottoman placed beside her grandmother’s treadle sewing machine, filled with pieces of fabric destined for other inventive creations. After Olive passed away, the item was stored at Christine’s parent’s house for over 20 years, long since forgotten. Fated for the bonfire, Christine rescued the special piece of furniture, and it has remained in her own home ever since. Her Grandmother’s spirit lives on as the ottoman is being used once more for odd pieces of fabric. As a beautiful way to store away your clutter, if you feel in need of something similar, take a look at our ottoman beds and see how you can keep your home tidy.

Chris Edwards, General Manager of the Furniture Village store in Exeter comments, “What a charming story about a valued piece of family furniture. It really is a testament to the resourceful attitude of previous generations. We hope that Christine will enjoy spending the vouchers, and are looking forward to welcoming her to the local store at Sowton Retail Park.

Julie Janes from Old Warden, Milton Keynes, was also selected as one of the winners for the story of her treasured childhood chair, and has received £500 worth of vouchers to spend at Furniture Village.

The history of the chair

This small chair was handmade for Julie Janes 49 years ago on her first birthday. Her father, a skilled carpenter, crafted the item from a piece of very old English oak which had lain disused for many years. The wood had been rescued from a house which dated back to the 17th century, and was about to be destroyed before it was saved and put to good use. The oak was believed to have been part of an ancient ship which embarked on many voyages, and undoubtedly witnessed a number of exciting adventures.

The chair was crafted with handmade ‘nail/pegs’ in the manner in which it would have been constructed originally, and carved to show the authentic old wood grain to full effect. Julie’s initials, as well as the date of her first birthday, 1964, are etched on the underneath of the chair. This charming piece of family history now sits beside Julie’s fireplace, along with her old teddy, and will continue to be passed down many more generations to come.

Neil Pepper, General Manager of the Furniture Village store in Milton Keynes comments, “We are delighted that one of the winners is a local customer, and feel that the competition is a lovely way of celebrating sentimental family heir looms. The chair is clearly a cherished possession and has an exciting history that is well worth the prize.”


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