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Otley unveils Chippendale 300 celebrations

Otley announces full programme of Chippendale 300 celebrations

6:04am 17th February 2018

Otley is set to pull out all the stops to remember a famous son.

The market town is the birthplace of England’s finest furniture maker Thomas Chippendale. 

Full details of the town's Chippendale 300 programme to mark the tercentenary of the famed cabinetmaker’s birth in 1718 have been unveiled. 

Events at the month-long Celebrating Chippendale: Otley’s Famous Son, June 2018 festival include a birthday party in what could have been his former school, a concert of 18th-century music in the church where he was baptised, talks by Chippendale Society members, and an Antiques Roadshow-style event. 

To further mark the birth of Chippendale, Otley is producing a celebratory Chippend’Ale beer in conjunction with Otley-based micro-brewer Paul Briscoe and Harrogate’s Daleside Brewery, planting a riverside Chippendale-inspired flower bed in Wharfemeadows Park, and launching a self-guided walking tour of 18th-century Otley.

thomas chippendale

Town poet Matthew Hedley Stoppard, meanwhile, has produced a Chippendale-inspired poem, Thomas Carved Our Town.

The announcement of the full Celebrating Chippendale programme comes after last week’s launch of the Thomas Chippendale 1718-1779 exhibition at Leeds City Museum.

Chippendale, often called the country’s first interior designer thanks to the penning of his seminal work The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Director in 1754, was born in Otley in June 1718, with his baptism recorded in the annals of All Saints Parish Church on June 5 of the same year.

While his fame came after leaving Otley for London in his early 20s, it is thought he may have learnt many of his skills while working with his father joiner John Chippendale.

The pair worked together on Farnley Hall, a stately home outside Otley that is owned by the Horton-Fawkes family, and at Harewood House, then owned by Henry Lascelles.

Lawrence Ross of Visit Otley, who is chairing the town’s Celbrating Chippendale committee, said:

“Thomas Chippendale remains Otley’s most famous son, despite much of his fame coming after he left for the bright lights of London. While Otley may not have a selection of big-ticket furniture for visitors to see, it shaped his early life and retains a unique place in his history. As such, we have created a programme of events that we hope will inform people of his life here and elsewhere, as well as providing a more, modern fun element through celebrations such as the birthday party and events for the younger generation.”

Paul Carter, chair of Otley Town Council’s Trade & Tourism committee, said:

“Otley has a long history of innovation that stretches back to the time of Thomas Chippendale. We hope visitors will enjoy this programme that shows off both Otley’s historic past and modern present.” 

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