This chair was made from a hollow elm that has been a famous landmark of Surrey.

The tree was sold as part of the Chequers Public House in 1722. In the 1960s was home to a charitible tramp, who could live there becuase the tree was deemed to be on Common Land. Unfortunately the elm's life came to an end in February 2008,when it collapsed to the ground after probably a thousand years of life.
(Sold in 2011. )Bespoke Elm chair

the old chequers pub

The chair has to be seen to be believed. It is vast in size, measuring around two metres wide and more than two metres tall. It is a truly majestic chair created from the remains of a tree with a fascinating and well-documented history.

A brief history of the chap who lived in the tree:

Knowles, Charlie.? Charlie Knowles was a colourful character in Horley during the 1960s, not only because of his white beard and his sporty grey top hat, but also where on numerous occasions he spent his nights. For almost two years he slept under the remaining elm tree in the car park of the then "Chequers Hotel", now the "Gatwick Thistle Hotel". One reason for doing so was said to be his belief that the tree was on Horley Common and he wanted to exercise his right to use the common.
Hotel client's as well as the staff employed there became accustomed to his presence, the last mentioned often plied him with food and offered him shelter during bad weather. Charlie often walked many miles, mainly for charity and it was on one such walk at the age of 53 years he was knocked down and killed. He was taking part in a June London to Brighton charity walk when it happened at Hooley. Many who knew and respected him always called him Cheerful Charlie and willingly clubbed together to buy a wreath for his funeral.
For years after many Horley residents and others from elsewhere enquired about the cheerful chappy who slept under tree.


Woody Hollows are the creation of Colin Ford, whose workshop is based in Reigate, Surrey. They are traded as part of Colin Ford Bespoke Joinery Ltd. This site is dedicated to Colin's love of two things 'the tree' and 'the chair'
These organic chairs are made from native, dead hollow trunks, pre-destined for the log pile. Where possible the social history of the trees used, are researched and evidence of the animal and plant inhabitants left so that the tree's story can live on. Each tree dictates its final shape, shrinkage splits and natural distorts are worked with and are integral to the pieces; this ensures that no 2 chairs are the same. Each piece speaks the life of the tree and dictates the skill and vision by which it was made.
His chairs are predominantly intended to be situated indoors to preserve the tactile finish of waxed or oiled finishes. This protects the chairs, allowing them to remain landmarks and heirlooms for future generations.
"The chair is a very personal piece of furniture that offers support and comfort to the individual. Trees offer security and protection to many life forms, including ourselves and are capable of tapping into our most primitive senses."

About Colin.

we love the yew tree     Colin's work can be viewed at his workshop in Reigate. Or at many of the wood / country shows around the Home counties.

    A chair carved from a Yew tree.

   The chair shows the wonderful natural fluting of the Yew bark and   has been designed to give an understanding of both the beauty of the tree as it stood and the beauty of its timber when refined through shaping and sanding.The second picture shows the back of this colourful yew chair. It retains the bark which is stabilised and polished with melted wax. This allows a contrast between the highly polished interior and rough scaly texture of the outer bark.