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Summary of Brouette
The Brouette is a rare carriage. This example has a standard Sedan Chair shaped body with a door at the front, two shafts and a wooden handle at the back. Painted in brown and black with a buff coloured upholstery inside.
The Brouette was a successor to the Sedan Chair and consists of a sedan chair body on two wheels with a pair of shafts. They were used to transport the ladies and gentlemen of high social standing around the vast rooms of country houses or, as blinds could be lowered over the windows, to discreetly remove mistresses. There were also public sedan chairs and Brouettes working on the streets of cities.
As with sedan chairs they were powered by people known as ‘chairmen’. With wheels the Brouette only required one chairman rather than the two required to lift a sedan chair that would have a long pole each side that the chairmen would lift.
Length: 8ft 3 ¼”
Width: 4ft 2”
This Brouette has a standard sedan chair shaped body with a curved lower profile. At the front at the base is a protruding step which of round 6 inches in depth and, being hollow, provides a space for the occupants feet. The roof panel lifts up on two hinges at the back allowing the occupants to gracefully enter the Brouette. They were made and used at a time when both men and women wore wigs arranged in high elaborate styles. It was a balancing act to keep the wigs straight on ones head and so a lifting roof would allow the occupant to remain upright when stepping into the carriage.
On the back is a turned wood handle for pushing the Brouette which suggests that a footman may have followed the carriage and assisted when needed. At the front is a single door mounted on two hinges with a silver plated brass T bar handle. The door has a lowering window with plain wood frames and there are lowering windows in each upper side panel. The shafts are fine and run along the side of the body protruding at the back. They are bolted to the side panels of the Brouette and have leather served tips with two brass attachments that a leather strap would be buckled to for the chairman to pass over his shoulders.
The wheels have 10 spokes and are of the English pattern with iron tyres on common axles. The axle is straight and passes through the body of the Brouette under the seat. Side springs of a straight profile are fixed to the underside of the shafts and mounted on the axle.
The lower body, wheels, shafts and springs are painted brown with the upper body painted black. The step is also painted black on the upper side. It does not appear to be the original paintwork. There is no lining or decorative motifs. Inside the Brouette has lost the majority of its upholstery. At the front and sides is a plain buff colour material, the sides are buttoned. There is a lace surviving on the lowering window to the left. A modern looking buff calico material covers the seat panels. A jacquard pattern vinyl covers the lower panels inside.
No visible inscriptions.
This Brouette has lost the majority of its interior upholstery. The surviving materials are stained with age but show no signs of recent pest damage. The body, shafts and wheels appear sound and the paintwork is stable.
This Brouette is in the care of the Tyrwhitt-Drake Carriage Museum.
Maidstone Museum and Art Gallery
St Faith's Street,
Maidstone Museum/Amy Bracey