Robin Hood's Chair Yet Again !

The chair used in The Story of Robin Hood (1952)

I have recently been sent an email from Christoph, a regular reader of this blog, who says he has seen Robin Hood's Chair being used in an episode from the CBBC series Horrible Histories (2009-2013). If it is the chair (originally designed by Carmen Dillon for Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men in 1951) it means it has been in used in historical productions for 62 years!

It was while watching the classic television series the Adventures of Robin Hood (1955-1960) starring Richard Greene, that I noticed a familiar piece of furniture in the Sheriff of Nottingham's chamber. I was sure I had seen the highly decorated chair with its circular headrest and carved pineapples before.

That chair in the Adventures of Robin Hood (1955-1960)

I immediately paused the DVD and quickly grabbed my illustrated copy of Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men. I was correct! It was the same chair that had been designed by Carmen Dillon and her art department for Disney's live-action movie in 1951. Somehow it had found its way to Nettlefold Studios and the ground-breaking set of the black and white television series.

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1955-60)

As a young lad, these two versions of the Robin Hood legend had a huge influence on me. So you can imagine my surprise when I recently found, what I believe to be that very same chair (over thirty years later) in another all-time favourite of mine Robin of Sherwood (1984-1986).

The chair in Robin of Sherwood

I made a few enquires about this remarkable coincidence and received this message from a member of the Britmovie forum:

“I think it’s quite normal for props and costumes and even whole sets to be used in other films over the years. Studios normally had their own prop stores and there are also several large independent prop hire companies around London that have been on the go for years. I remember visiting one in Acton many years ago while helping a friend find some props for a theatre production; it was like an Aladdin’s cave with the proprietor cheerfully pointing out what other famous plays some of the props had been used for in the past.”


"I guess most of the props these days are located in private rental firms. In the old days before studios went four walls they contained huge prop departments on site. I know Pinewood had a massive prop dept so it’s not unusual for the same prop to pop up in many films and are now privately owned. I know when MGM Borehamwood closed they flogged a lot off in a huge auction and many went down the road to Elstree."

The Robin Hood Chair in The Men of Sherwood (1954)

Another regular blog visitor kindly sent me stills of those chairs being used in The Men of Sherwood Forest (1954). This was the first of a trilogy of Robin Hood  features made by Hammer Film productions and also their first colour movie.

Men of Sherwood (1954)

Brian Varaday sent me another example (below) of the chair being used in The Dark Avenger (1955). This not only starred Errol Flynn, but also had many people involved in its production who would have been familiar with the chair when it was first used on the set of Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood at Denham Studios in 1951. Actors such as Peter Finch, Michael Hordern, Ewen Solon, crew members Guy Green, Alex Bryce and technical adviser Charles R. Beard had all previously worked on Robin Hood.

The chair used in The Dark Avenger (1955)

But this is not the end of the story of Robin Hood's Chair and I was amazed to receive this email from Christoph recently:

I'm a frequent reader of your page and have posted some comments on it under the name BobBarnsdale. My name is Christoph and I live in Berlin, having a big intertest in movies depicting the middle ages, particularly in RH movies.

After I've read the articles about the RH chair I've spotted it in some more films like "The Black Knight" with Alan Ladd.

Now I found it a TV piece from 2013, maybe the most recent use of it. It's from BBC's "Horrible Histories" sketches in season 5 episode 1. It is about the coronation of Richard the Lionheart in 1189 and used as his throne. Allthough it is differently painted and the pieces on top of the chairback are missing, it is definetly the RH chair or a replica, best to be seen in the part where Richard wants to sell London.
A scene from the Horrible Histories episode on Richard I

Is it the original chair designed and used in Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood in 1951? What do you think?

A big thank you to everyone who has helped me trace the various productions that have used this prop. If you know where it is stored, please get in touch. After sixty two years it is nice to think Robin Hood's Chair is still being used during the reign of Richard the Lionheart!


Clement Glen said...

A big thank you to Christoph, Brian Varaday and everyone who has helped spot Robin Hood's Chair. If you have any information on its whereabouts please get in touch.

Brian Varaday said...

Thank you Clement! Brian.

Clement Glen said...

Great to hear from you Brian and many thanks for your contributions.