A short history lesson for all you Sunday afternoon couch-surfers…
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It may interest you to know that the word ‘sofa’ is actually derived (like our numbers) from Arabic, stemming from the word, suffa.
The word ‘couch’ is also derived from another language (French), the word in question being ‘coucher’, meaning to lie down.
What we don’t know about those words however, is what period in history they were actually introduced to their native languages, or in fact, to ours. It is this distinction that adds a sense of mystery to the origins of the Chesterfield Sofa.
Though you can of course buy cheap sofas in the UK at Hello Sofas amongst other online retailers, there is something extra special about a Chesterfield Sofa. This is not only because it is one of the few sofas originally designed in the UK, but also because its background yields such a treasure trove of historical facts.
For example, the Oxford Dictionary tells us that the word ‘Chesterfield’ actually originates from the 1800’s and was used to describe a leather couch or sofa. According to several historians, the Chesterfield Sofa is actually the brainchild of Lord Phillip Stanhope, otherwise known as the 4th Earl of Chesterfield.
It is said that at some point at least midway through his life the Earl commissioned a master craftsman to design and to manufacture a sofa to his exact specifications; what was produced was the world’s very first Chesterfield Sofa.
What is perhaps most remarkable is the fact that although many other sofas have fluctuated in both style and material, the Chesterfield Sofa has pretty much remained in the same state since its conception; a feat that remains a credit to both men who helped design it.
From this very first sofa, thanks to the Earl’s high societal standing, the design soon caught the imaginations of the British upper class which itself was a world of fad, jealousy and fashion.
It is said that upon the death of the Earl that he gave the very first Chesterfield to his friend, Mr. Dayrolles who commissioned many other sofas in the same style as the original.
Throughout the years, the Chesterfield could be found all over the world, having travelled to the farthest regions of the British Empire from the United States and Canada, right through to India and Australia.
In the UK however, if you happened to live through the Victorian Era, the chances are that you would only find or see a Chesterfield in a Gentleman’s club in London. In other words, unless you were extremely wealthy, you would never encounter such a sofa.
However, thanks to advances in modern technology and economies, Chesterfield Sofas are available to everyone, despite their very luxurious origins. Here’s to a historic sofa.
In association with Hello Sofas