All About Us

Contact Us

We'd love to hear from you if you are interested in upholstery tuition or commissions.  Whilst our workshop in the Oxfordshire countryside is a great place to work the phone reception is very patchy so it's best to get in touch in the first instance by email if possible.  Please email for tuition inquiries or for commissions.


Please note that the workshop is not open to the public without an appointment.


If you need to get in touch by phone Mary's phone number is 07809 730040.


The Mary's Chairs Team

Mary Blaxland

Mary qualified as a traditional upholsterer in 2014 and set up Mary's Chairs.

From a young age she was fascinated with fabric, colour, design and loves to create personalised presents for her family and friends.

Her hobby has now become her passion and she is in the process of building her dream workshop where upholstery, sewing, rug making and all aspects of fabric creativity can happen under one roof. Making new friends and sharing the joy of creating and learning new skills is her greatest pleasure. She loves to challenge herself and discover the endless world of fabric and design.

Christine Howard

Christine is in charge of the commission side of the business.  Christine qualified in traditional and modern upholstery in 2016 from the City of Oxford College, attaining distictions in the AMUSF Craft Certificate qualifications (Association of Master Upholsterers and Soft Furnishers).  She has been working on commissions at Mary's Chairs ever since.

As a chartered landscape architect she has always been very interested in design and has a particular love of colour and fabrics.  She has many crafting skills including patchwork quilting, lampshades, and pottery and loves trying new traditional crafts.

Pip and Roah

Pip and Roah are Mary's rescue dogs.  Both are lurchers with lovely temperaments.  They generally sleep quietly in a corner of the workshop but love to meet and greet dog-loving students, especially those who bring them treats! 

The Sylva Wood Centre

Our workshop is at the Sylva Wood Centre, in Long Wittenham, near Abingdon and Wallingford.  The  Sylva Wood Centre is the home of the Sylva Foundation, an environmental charity helping trees and people grow together.  The main focus at the Sylva Wood Centre is to encourage the use of home-grown wood by supporting skills, enterprise and innovation.  The Centre supports a number of wood based businesses, business incubation and runs a Wood School teaching centre, all set inthe Oxfordshire countryside.   The  Wood Centre isn't open to the public except during organised events.

The beginings of Mary's Chairs

By Mary Blaxland

The story of my chair.


My first encounter with upholstery started in 2009. We were about to buy a new house, and in the garage was a 1930s rocking chair covered in a brown corduroy with palm leaf design. I fell in love with the chair and visualised it resplendent in a new cover; the curved wooden arms cleaned and polished, the rocking mechanism oiled and smooth.


I didn't have the first idea how to go about the transformation; I had experience of curtain and cushion making but had no experience of upholstery. The chair was so full of promise, I was afraid of making a botched attempt at re-covering it; I knew nothing of upholstery fabrics, stuffing materials or the tools required.


The chair remained in the garage.

 I bought a basic set of upholstery tools and set about the re-covering of our dining room chairs. It didn't take long for me to realise that there was more to upholstery than fabric and staples.


The chair remained in the garage.


 Time passed and we were moving again, the chair was discovered among all the other garage occupants gathered over the past four years and I was reminded of my desire and failure to do anything about it’s renovation.


I resolved to act; I found an evening upholstery group held in a village hall and took the chair along once a week to start the restoration process. I soon learned that I loved upholstery, but also discovered that I wanted a more in-depth learning experience. I wanted to totally immerse myself in the process.

So, in March 2014 I started my first week at the Traditional Upholstery Workshop. I discovered within the first couple of days that I wanted this to be more than a hobby and signed up to the Business diploma course. I set up a modest workshop and spent most of 2014 training and working on small commissions. In 2015 my business had been running for a year, and I was moving to the Sylva Wood Centre into my new larger workshop. The Wood Centre had just recently opened and we were about to take part in the Oxford ArtWeeks festival.

I needed something to exhibit, and decided it was time to finish my chair. I had bought some beautiful but what then seemed hideously expensive fabric (not quite so hideous now I discover) to cover my chair with and I decided it was time to finally commit. I returned to the Traditional Upholstery Workshop for a further weeks training and set about completing my chair.

The finished article was displayed and I received many approving comments especially regarding the stunning Melin Tregwynt Mondo fabric.


My chair represents many things to me: a past I want to preserve, a quality that is enchanting and the joy of discovering a craft and tradition that brings me such joy.


It now has pride of place next to my fireplace and my heart lifts whenever I sit in it.

Mary's Chairs, Sylva Foundation Wood Centre, Little Wittenham Road, Long Wittenham, Abingdon, OX14 4QT    

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