Gold Sid

Serpent Tails

Will Hall

Gleaming bright gold, this Lake District icon can be seen hovering above lapping waters and through all weathers. Over the past five months, we have been working on a particularly unusual commission and a Lake District icon. We have been recreating the Coniston Gondola’s striking, sea serpent figurehead…

The National Trust, who rebuilt the original Victorian Gondola (in the late 70’s) have commissioned Peter Hall & Son to recreate its spiralling serpent figurehead. Affectionately known by the crew as ‘Sid’, the serpent has led the way over the water, with more than three decades of weathering having taken its toll.

Gondola’s story begins in Victorian times with the original yacht commissioned in 1858 and built in 1859 by the Furness Railway Company, as an attraction for the tourists they brought by train to Coniston. Gondola’s full lake cruise starts at Coniston Pier sailing to Lake Bank, the site of the original Victorian ticket office and waiting room, then to Parkamoor on the east shore and north to Brantwood, the home of John Ruskin between 1871 and 1900 and then the short distance across the lake back to Coniston Pier. Whether you choose to sit in the luxurious First Class Saloon or enjoy being out on the deck, it is a wonderful journey, gliding smoothly and almost silently over the water on this majestic boat, surrounded by stunning scenery.


Gliding silently across Coniston at water level on Gondola is an unforgettable experience.


This is not the first time we have been involved with Gondola. About 14 years ago we did some major work in the First Class saloon; lining the ceiling with very fine wool and supporting it with wooden vaults to match in with the design of the original. The seating we reupholstered in plush red buttoned fabric, thus reinstating the saloon in the first class manner in which it was intended. Restoration work also took place then on Sid, involving replacing rotten wood and regilding the serpent. That, along with improvements to the barge boards on either side of the bow, has kept it all in good order up until now.

A fundraising drive was launched resulting in the commission of the new serpent to be carved in solid oak, gilded and placed back on the bow, ready for when Gondola is put back on Coniston in March for what is hoped will be many more years.

Suzi Bunting, visitor experience development manager for Gondola, said: “Sid not only represents our link to Gondola’s Victorian history but his forked tongue, according to maritime myth, is said to ward off bad weather. That’s some achievement in the changeable climate of the Lake District.”

So if you are in The Lake District between 25th March and 31st October be sure to go to the shore of Coniston and see this wonderful boat in action. Or better still, buy a ticket and experience Gondola for yourself. Members of the National Trust now get a discount!

Let us take you through the creation of the new Sid…

The new serpent started its life as blocks of English oak, glued and cramped together to form a rough ‘blank’, ready to be sculpted.

The sculpting took the best part of four months, despite the use of machinery used to get the general shape. Hand tools were used for much of the finishing to ensure beautifully smooth and flowing shapes and detailed face.

Each night, Sid was placed in our woodshed to keep him in similar conditions to that which he will remain when onboard Steam Yacht Gondola, to protect him from becoming too dry or cracking.

Each of the scales have been painstakingly planned out to ensure an even cross hatch pattern that tightens at the coils. Every line has been hand carved with a V shaped chisel and mallet.

Over six coats of undercoat and yellow paint were applied before finally applying a skin of gold leaf. This required a huge amount of care in order not to fill the grooves and lose their definition.


See the process from start to finish.

Watch the serpent emerge from a block of timber and grow his golden skin.


Explore more…

National Trust

Grand Victorian Circular Tour

Find out more about our Woodturning Workshop

bespoke knole sofa

Bespoke Knole Sofa

Showcasing all the merits of bespoke, handmade upholstery, our latest Knole sofa is a sight to behold.

We have designed and made this knole as a fusion of traditional and contemporary. With brand new ribbed velvet fabric, revealing subtle orange between a wash of rich grey.

Walnut Demilune Drawer

Demilune Twins

Will Hall

For us, the demilune is a jewel of the furniture world. Its petite proportions and functional simplicity demand high expectations for detail.

The demilune console table is named so because it is the shape of a crescent half moon. First popular in the 18th Century, the demilune is a versatile piece, ideal for complimenting other interior furniture and decor and perfect for smaller spaces, such as hallways. Inspired by the forms of the historic originals, our designs give an air of timeless simplicity and great refinement.


Burr Walnut Demilune

Both these pieces represent the skill of their craftsmanship, with curved rails and drawer, shaped from solid timber. The drawer is exceptionally put together with traditional, hand cut dovetails.

The edges are framed with darker walnut beading and handle, inset, spilling out of the front and continuing the flow of the piece.

The handle harks back to Peter Hall’s original designs and has been enhanced with an inlaid line of boxwood. This white line also adds definition to the top.

Swirling, burr walnut veneer is used for the top of this piece. Each segment is book matched and cut to fit seamlessly with the next, to give a beautiful mirrored pattern

One dark, the other light. Twins, but in reflection.


Ripple Olive Ash Demilune


This twin demilune is made with ripple olive ash. The legs and top particularly, seem to shimmer like silk.

Here, rosewood forms the distinctive, dark detailing that sets off the different elements. Again the inlaid line of the drawer front, flows through the handle and adds that little extra impact to the top.

Both of these are available now and can be viewed in our Showroom in Staveley.

For more details, please do enquire.

Peter Hall Boutique

New Windermere Boutique

Will Hall

We are very excited to announce that Peter Hall & Son has branched out onto the High Street with a new boutique in Windermere! It has long been in our minds to have a shop somewhere else, but it was only in 2014 that we finally found the right place in the Lake District, in the heart of Cumbria. 25 Crescent Road, Windermere was not fit for purpose, but had fantastic potential. We wanted it! The whole place needed stripping back and making new and after months of effort, the work was completed and we were able to move in, set up the displays, opening our doors for the first time on Saturday 23rd May, 2015.

The intention for our new Windermere Boutique is to showcase our own services alongside carefully selected accessories to offer a lifestyle shopping experience unlike any other in the area. With our workshops just 8 minutes drive down the road, our High Street location is ideal for those interested in exploring more about our furniture.

The shop has a large space at the front, with huge double aspect windows wrapping around two sides giving us the opportunity for amazing window displays. The back of the premises is partitioned and is occupied with our newly fitted interior design suite that gives a great space for one to one consultations. Being in a public place gives us more opportunity to showcase some of the wonderful fabrics and wallpapers that arrive in collections every season. Hunting out the finest collections, we offer the special and more unusual ranges that you would expect from a boutique.

On Display

We made it our mission from the start that the experience of visiting our boutique would be an exciting and memorable one. An open environment to welcome people in and keep them coming back to see what is new. We’ve even been awarded for it!

Fine furniture is on show and for sale, from a beautiful dining room suite, to one off upholstery, lamp tables and desks, each individually hand made in our workshops. We have selected the finest collections and individual items from suppliers and local makers that offer something for every occasion. Cards to umbrella stands, bags to clocks. It may seem diverse, but the ethos behind each item is the same: high quality, unusual items that fit the lifestyle of the Lake District – quality, country chique.

Here’s a taster of what you might find.


A stylish oak Oxford dining table and 6 Rylands dining chairs; an oak sideboard and various lamp and side tables.

Our upholstery skills can be seen even before you get in the boutique, as our latest Knole sofa is an imposing presence in one window, while in the other an inviting check wool covered chairs and footstool is hard to resist.

To complete the PH range our woodturners have worked hard to provide a varied collection of items to tempt buyers for every occasion.



We are exclusive stockists of Herdwick Limited. A super stylish and classic selection of bags and accessories, beautifully designed and made in Cumbria using finely spun and woven Herdwick wool.

Just in selection of barometer wall clocks from a new company, Bramwell Brown, based in Leeds. There are a number of models that show the weather or indeed the tides. Each one is British made!


A lovely range of throws and cushions in pure wool spun and woven in Yorkshire.

Chosen for their delicate refinement and natural forms, these fine porcelain shaped tea lights resemble sea urchins, shells and leaves, and are so thin, they glow with a lit candle.

Lucy Sandys-Clarke, a talented local blacksmith who makes amazing items for your home. Look out for her fireside companion set or her stunning log basket based on growing ferns, made exclusively for Peter Hall & Son.

Combining our work with interesting, quality accessories has been very warmly received by locals and visitors alike and we have been really thrilled to have so many positive comments. So, if you haven’t been to visit us yet please do. Depending on which day you come it might be Alice that greets you, but it is also quite likely that it might be a member of the Hall family as Diana, Will and Becca are all here at various times. So we look forward to welcoming you.

In the meantime, why not browse through our online shop where you will find a selection of what we have on offer in our boutique.

Find out more about our store in Windermere



Will Hall

With this piece, Conch, planned in advance – the wood alone was left for over a year to dry – we wanted to record the process of creating a sculptural form from start to finish.

This commission started with a large and very heavy piece of Robinia wood that had been growing in our clients garden and had been felled. This piece had been kept to be made into something special and so had been given to us.

After some thought of what to do with the piece and considering its overall form, we felt its organic nature leant itself to that of a shell. Using pictures, we planned out the design with drawings.


The very long process of carefully carving, hollowing and shaping the shell from the lump of wood is sped up. Enjoy the transformation.

Here is the result.

Find out more about our Woodturning Workshop



Will Hall

It has taken weeks of endured effort and concentration for our woodturner, Ian Sugden, to bring his vision for this substantial piece, Psephos, to fruition.

From the very beginning, when the tree arrived at our workshop, Ian had big plans when he saw the characteristics of this wood. The bark had grown around a natural hollow in the trunk – a quite rare occurrence that he wanted to exploit.

In April 2013 the piece of timber was cut from the tree and mounted on the lathe. The rough turning took over 40 hours to hollow out to around an inch thickness whilst leaving the bark on the inside face of the rim. A difficult task when the opening is less than 10 cm and the bowl is over 70 cm in diameter!

With most of the material removed the bowl had begun to take shape – a large, smooth, boulder-like form. But despite his enthusiasm, now began the waiting game. The bowl was placed in our wood shed and left to season and dry.

Over a year later, July 2014, and the hollow form bowl, now fully seasoned and unlikely to crack or split, is back on the lathe.

Carefully, more and more of the wood is removed, mostly from the inside through the tiny porthole opening. Carving and removing timber, feeling for smoothness, checking for thickness. The worst thing would be to take too much away and go through!



Days of work pass and as the form becomes close to its desired thickness, now only 10mm, the next stage begins to smooth out the uneven areas. Unable to sand the piece whilst spinning on the lathe due to the narrowness of the hole, Ian had to do most of it by hand.


His attention to detail and his vision for a perfect outcome kept him focused. More than six days were spent evening out and smoothing the inside and outside surfaces. The lumps often not appearing until a layer or two of oil finish had been applied, just to be sanded back again.

As the surface became smoother the wood began to reveal its colours, tones and subtle textures.



Several layers of oil applied and burnished, each layer taking a day to cure and the satisfaction of all Ian’s determination was on everyone’s faces.

A wonder to behold – we call is Psephos.

Find out more about our Woodturning Workshop



Below: the base

bar tables at Royal Lytham & St Annes Club House

Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club – Bar Tables

Will Hall

Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club is one of the best links courses in the world. Running for over a century, you have only to walk down the Clubhouse hall of fame to get a sense of its reputation as a major golfing venue. Indeed, as you pass through the rooms and halls of the Clubhouse, there maintains a strong atmosphere of quality. The same eye for detail for carved oak panels and spotless carpets, as for the shortness of the grass and the shine of the numerous trophies. The club came to us with a desire for quality. They were looking to replace the ten bar tables in their members bar with new ones that would better reflect the quality of establishment that their members are used to.


Visiting the Golf Club, we discussed the requirements and measured up dimensions for the bar tables. The design needed to be smart and sophisticated, match the colour of the room’s oak panelling and last at least 10 years.


Our proposed design for the bar tables focused on the impact of the table top. A light boxwood line and refined edge detailing provides the sophisticated aesthetic to match in with their environment. The gently curving legs provide elegance with added stability.


Finished with a special protective, food-safe finish to keep them looking their best for many years to come.


Why not visit the Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club and experience the delights for yourself.

Find out more about our Fine Furniture Workshop

Sun Bleached Bureau

Too much sun!

Will Hall

The power of the sun is something that is regularly overlooked when arranging furniture within our homes. It’s effect can be both positive and destructive, but so gradual that it often goes unnoticed until the damage is done. Ambient UV light from sunlight changes the colour of wood, with Oak darkening, bringing out warmer tones. Direct sunlight however can have adverse effects on certain finishes and especially stains, sapping the colour and washing out the richness that it once had. This is the story of a bureau…

This 19th Century Victorian roll top bureau, had sat in the sun too long. Positioned in front of a large window, the sunlight had almost totally destroyed the colour. If it wasn’t for the remaining finish inside and on the back in the shadow of the sun, one would be hard put to guess that there was once a finish at all.

The very detailed marquetry on all sides had become almost indistinguishable in colour from the main body of wood, and this was to prove the major challenge.


A surprise inside!

Removing the top to disassemble the roll top lid, we were delighted to find, scrawled in pencil by the maker – the address for which this piece was originally made.

Number 36 Morningside Crescent, Hampstead Heath, London.


Wherever possible, we prefer to leave any original finish in place to conserve a piece’s history. In this case however, more drastic measures were necessary and the remaining finish had to be removed.


Now with the wood bare, new stain and finish could be applied to return the exterior surface to its original colour and shine. The difficulty was to colour the main Mahogany timber without also darkening the lighter wood of the marquetry. By using a chemical stain that reacts with the natural tannin in the Mahogany but not occurring in the marquetry timber, our team were able to restore the rich colour of the main cabinet, giving the marquetry clear definition.

Stain applied, then began the long process of building up the finish. Using shellac polish, thin layer upon thin layer was built up. With each layer, there was time to let the finish sink into the grain which was then rubbed back with fine abrasive paper to smooth the surface, before another layer of shellac. A matter of thorough attention, and patience.


And the patience paid off. With the antiqued brass, polished to match the shine that would have been originally intended in the 19th century, the difference is undoubtably astounding!


The sun bleached bureau as it arrived with us.


How it left after restoration.


The inside of the bureau after completed restoration, still with it’s original leather writing surface. The outside stain perfectly matching that of the inside that had been hidden from the sun.

Find out more about our Restoration & Conservation Workshop

Lake District Summer Music Festival

Supporting the Lake District Summer Music Festival

Will Hall

We are pleased to be supporting the 30th year of the Lake District Summer Music Festival. An internationally renowned festival in the heart of the Lake District, bringing together some of the finest musicians from around the world….


Featuring a wide range of musical acts including orchestral concerts, recitals, music theatre, jazz and vocal works, the LDSM festival takes place within the acoustically ideal, historic churches and halls of Ambleside and Windermere.

We hope you will join us from August 2 – 15 to hear great music from around the world.

For more information about the ongoing events visit

parker knoll chair reupholstery

Parker Knoll Antique Reupholstery

Will Hall

Life is full of surprises!  During his 40 years as an upholsterer, David had never come across an antique chair like this.  As it arrived as just a metal frame and with no knowledge of what it should look like, could we get it bring it back to being the chair it once was? The only thing we had to go on was the name Parker Knoll and a design number stamped on it.

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