Sedan Chair from First Hospital

Sedan Chair from First Hospital

two men carried a single passenger who sat inside the windowed cabin

This leather sedan chair was used to transport patients to Winchester’s County Hospital in Parchment Street during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. It was given to Winchester Museums in 1903 by the hospital governors.

A Sedan chair is a form of human-powered transport, or litter. With the aid of poles and yokes across their shoulders, two men carried a single passenger who sat inside the windowed cabin. Although based on older forms of litters the English Sedan chair dates from early 17th century. The Sedan chair would have had an advantage over a coach as a preferred form of transport as a journey could start and end indoors so the occupant did not have to set foot outside into perhaps filthy streets.

Winchester’s County Hospital for the Sick and Lame was the first regularly organised hospital in England outside of London. It was founded in 1736 by Dr Alured Clarke in Colebrook Street, Winchester. Such was its success that in 1758 it had to move to a larger purpose-built building in Parchment Street. In 1868 the hospital moved to Romsey Road where it still exists as the Royal Hampshire County Hospital.

Quick Facts

  • Accession number WINCM:LH 3887.1
  • Made of wood, leather and textile
  • Used by The County Hospital, Winchester
  • Date used between about 1775 and 1825
  • Dimensions Cabin length 92cm (max.), Cabin width 74cm (max.), Cabin height 157cm, Pole length 364cm


  • Traces of three different fabric linings were found in the chair. The original lining was cream wool.
  •  The black exterior finish was common on Sedan chairs that were for hire.

Did you know?

The word sedan has been said to derive both from the root sed- from the Latin ‘sella’ for chair and from the French city of Sedan.

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