Charles Baker (1841 -1932), came from an important family of chair and cabinet makers working in Bath in the 19th and early 20th centuries. He had workshops at the appropriately named Chippendale House, 4 Wells Road, Bath in 1888, and worked there until his death in 1932. The firm was known for its exacting recreation of 18th century designs especially Sheraton and Chippendale patterns.
Together with his elder brother William, Charles trained in chair making under his father Alexander Baker. Having worked with his brother and nephews for many years he established his own company in 1888 moving to Chippendale House.
The directory entries for the two brothers are:
25 Morford St. 1854 -60; in 1854 as Chair Maker; Harington House, 1870-97; 1860-89 as Cabinet Maker; 1897, as Cabinet Maker and Upholsterer. As 'Baker & Sons' to 1919 (that is George Herbert, and Percy Baker).
Cabinet Maker & Upholsterer Harington House, 1870; Milk Street, 1881; 4 Wells Road by 1888 (until 1919 at Nos. 13,15). As 'Baker and Clack' for a short period. Noted as upholsterer in 1897. In 1910 as 'Baker and Mann' (5 Wells Road 1911 -13, 15 Wells Road 1914 -17), but reverted to 'Charles Baker' at Mr Mann's death. Listed as 'Chair and Sofa Maker', 1900 -1919.
The brothers had very distinctive styles, Charles preferring plainer forms, while Charles often enlivened his work with fancy carving. Both, however enjoyed strong patronage and favoured the ever popular designs of Sheraton and Chippendale.
By 1910, Charles had entered into a silent partnership with the Aberdeen hotelier Mr Mann. Mann was father in law to Charles Augustus Richter, who together with his brothers, started the famous 'Bath Cabinet Makers' Firm. Baker & Mann became a subsidiary of Bath Cabinet Makers at this time, the name reverting to Charles Baker on Mann's death. Charles Baker died in July 1932.
Herbert Steven Baker, Charles's nephew, recalled that his uncle had made one hundred chairs for the Bath Guildhall Banqueting Room at a cost of £5 each. It is perhaps fitting that a portrait of Charles Baker, working at his bench, aged eighty years, by Frederick George Swaish now hangs in the Victoria Art Gallery, Bath. His work, widely appreciated at the time, for the quality and the detail of his carving, has now become highly sought after by a new generation of collectors.
'Furniture Made in Bath', Exhibition at the Holburne of Menstrie Museum, Bath, 13 September to 27 October 1985.