Parker Knoll

Parker Knoll Penshurst wing chair, PK720 Mk3
Parker Knoll Penshurst wing chair, PK720 Mk3. This chair was recovered in the green fabric in the 1970s.

Parker Knoll furniture has always promoted values of quality and comfort. It was a brand people aspired to own. In the 50s and 60s, Parker Knoll embraced modern as well as traditional design. The firm specialised in chairs and sofas.

The history of the company goes back to Victorian times. Unlike most furniture manufacturers, which were started by cabinet makers, the founder of Parker Knoll, was an upholsterer. He began in the trade as an apprentice in 1862.

After several years in the furniture trade, Frederick Parker started his own business in 1889, manufacturing furniture from premises in Drummond Road, Hampstead, London. Frederick Parker then moved the business to High Wycombe, the centre of UK furniture manufacture in 1897, forming a limited company known as Parkers with his four sons in 1901.

Parkers specialised in the manufacture of sofas and chairs, sticking to Frederick Parker's roots in upholstery. The Parker-Knoll trade mark was introduced in 1931.

Like many firms, Parker-Knoll was involved in the manufacture of aircraft in the Second World War. After the War, it resumed furniture production, making Utility chairs. Once the Utility Scheme ended in the early 50s, Parker Knoll continued with the manufacture of traditional sofas and chairs, but like many other firms also experimented with contemporary style.

Their take on contemporary was always restrained and well proportioned. Parker Knoll aimed at a market where comfort and build quality were important, though the company was not afraid to embrace the contemporary style and mix and match approach to colour that was popular in the 50s.

Parker Knoll also continued with traditional designs. They made a classic style wing chair in the 1930s. In 1951, Parker Knoll introduced the Penshurst wing chair. It was such a timeless desing that Parker Knoll still makes it today.

The Recliner

The recliner was a new development in the 60s. Several manufacturers made a reclining arm chair suitable for relaxing after a hard day's work. The Parker Knoll recliner was one of the best. Their advertising, firmly rooted in the social mores of the day, suggested that the housewife could use it, but only whilst her husband was out at work. It could recline to an almost horizontal position.

The recliner became an instant hit and was a desirable object in homes of the sixties and seventies. A variation of this classic design is still made today.

The Statesman

In the late sixties and early seventies a status symbol from the office found its way into the home: it was the black leather or vinyl office executive chair. Some people needed a desk and office chair at home; others thought what was good enough for the boardroom was good enough for the lounge.

Both Hille and Conran specialised in contract furniture. Some of their designs for office use also found their way into fashionable homes. The high backed swivel chair, suitable for the top executive's office, looked equally as good in the modern home. The swivel chair on pedestal base became a modern status symbol. It was seen as the chair of the man of the house. With its deep-buttoned, high back, swivel pedestal base, Parker Knoll's Statesman, right, looked the part.

Parker Knoll made good profits throughout the sixties. In 1961 it opened a furniture showroom in London. In 1962 the company bought new land at Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire and built a new factory as an additional production facility to its High Wycombe base. The new factory originally manufactured chairs and sofas under the Cornwell-Norton brand.

Parker Knoll in the 70s

Parker Knoll retained its status as a luxury aspirational brand in the 70s. The firm was able to work five days over the period of the three day week because its factories had their own generators.

This advertisement, left, from the early seventies tried to persuade people to make the extra sacrifice needed to own a Parker Knoll suite and emphasised that it need not be as expensive as they thought.

The textiles business ran alongside the furniture business from the late 1940s onwards. Parker Knoll Textiles made furnishing fabric used in Parker Knoll and other upholstered furniture.

Parker Knoll continued to make profits in the early years of the 80s, when many other British furniture firms struggled. In 1981 it bought struggling cabinet makers Nathan for £650,000.

The Parker Knoll brand is still in business today, promoting similar values of quality and comfort that saw it become a respected household name in the past.

Parker Knoll model names and numbers

We have compiled this table from contemporary advertisements and brochures. Please accept that it is not fully complete. However, it should provide some help in identifying Parker Knoll models.

PK716BurleighArmchair c1952
PK717CromfordArmchair c1952
PK720PenshurstWing chair 1951 to date
PK723BreconArmchair c1952
PK724BramberWing chair with open arms c1952
PK725PerthArmchair c1952
PK728LanarkArmchair c1953
PK729AmberleyArmchair c1953
PK731LeyburnArmchair c1960
PK732LincolnArmchair c1953
PK733LanfordSmall chair with arms c1960 to 1980s
PK734LangdaleContemporary wing chair c1953
PK735PembrokeTraditional wing chair c1953
PK735AlburyContemporary easy chair c1954
PK737LangoldContemporary armchair c1954
PK743DenhamSofa bed c 1955
PK745Hawkhurst Sofac1960 to match Penshurst to 1980s
PK747NewlynPadded dining chair c1955 to 1970s
PK749FroxfieldCompact armchair c1955-1980s
PK750FrithCompact wing chair (styled to match Froxfield) c1955 to 1980s
PK751RoslinContemporary dining chair with arms c1960 to 1980s
PK752ObanContemporary dining chair c1960 to 1980s
PK902High NewtonContemporary high-backed chair c1959
PK904NutleyContemporary wing chair c1959
PK908TuxfordContemporary small chair c1959
PK917MalvernContemporary armchair c1960
PK918KedelstonTraditional wing chair c1960-1962
PK919KnebworthMatching sofa for Kedelston
PK925LudlowContemporary armchair c1959
PK926ChepstowContemporary armchair c1959-1960
PK924RaglanContemporary wing chair c1959-1960
PK927DunsterContemporary armchair c1959-1960
PK928HighworthContemporary high-backed armchair c1960 to 1980s
PK929HighwingContemporary high-backed armchair with wings c1960 to 1980s
PK935GavotteThree-seater sofa c1960
PK936GavotteChair c1960
PK937TrivisoSwivel coffee table c1960
PK938MaltonSmall contemporary armchair c1960-1965
PK939TiranoSmall swivel chair c1960
PK945AndanteContemporary chair/unit seating c1960-1965
PK941SiennaContemporary armchair c1964-1965
PK947AdagioContemporary chair/unit seating with arms c1960-1965
PK950MendipContemporary armchair c1960-1962
PK951WycherleyContemporary wing chair c1960-1962
PK954RavannaContemporary armchair c1965
PK958HighworthContemporary high-backed armchair with padded arms c1970 to 1980s
PK959HighwingContemporary high-backed armchair with wings and padded arms c1970 to 1980s
PK960SerinoContemporary wing chair c1961-1965
PK964AbingerContemporary armchair c1965
PK967AinsdaleContemporary wing chair c1963-1965
PK970GiovanniChair c1964-1965
PK971GiovanniSettee c1964-1965
PK973RingwoodContemporary armchair c1965
PK974RockwoodContemporary rocking chair c1964-c1965
PK976Bosworth18th century inspired wing chair c1964 to 1980s
PK977BosworthFootstool for Bosworth chair c1964 to mid 1980s
PK988AshbyContemporary armchair c1969 to 1980s
PK989Ashby RockerContemporary rocking chair 1970s to 1980s
PK991Ashby WingContemporary wing chair 1970s to 1980s
PK992Ashby RockwingContemporary rocking wing chair 1970s to 1980s
PK997Ashby SeteeContemporary sofa c1970s
PK1009CastelContemporary high-backed chair 1970s
PK1014Froxfield SofaCompact sofa late 1960s to 1980s
PK1018(sofa), PK1017(chair), PK1016(high-backed chair), PK1019(rocker)Florian groupLadder-back chair, rocker and sofa c1969 to 1970s
PK1022 & PK1027Waverley SuiteCompact sofa and chairs based on a Victorian design from 1970s to early 1980s
PK1023AshtonModern high-backed chair 1970s to 1980s
PK1024High AshbyModern high-backed chair 1970s to 1980s
PK1025High AshtonModern high-backed chair 1970s to 1980s
PK1026High Ashby WingModern high-backed wing chair 1970s to 1980s
PK1038Orleans ChairTraditional wood-framed chair, 1970s
PK1039Orleans RockerTraditional wood-framed rocking chair, 1970s
PK1040Maxi SofaConvertible sofa/bed 1970s
PK1045 & PK1046Howard SuiteLuxury sofa and chairs, 1970s to 1980s
PK1048Castel with WingsModern wing chair 1970s
PK1050/51Elsinor Suite1970s
N17, N18CorshamMeeting room chairs c1970s
N18CopnorMeeting room chairs c1970s
N10, N12, N14, N21, N22, N23Compton GroupModern wood-framed sofa, chairs and table
N11, N13Conway GroupModern wood-framed sofa, chairs and table
N24QueensgateModern wood-framed chair without arms
N25QueenswoodModern wood-framed chair with arms
N26QueensdownModern wood-framed chair with arms
N27KingsgateModern wood-framed chair without arms
N28KingswoodModern wood-framed chair with arms
N29KingsdownModern wood-framed chair with arms
N30Norton ReclinerReclining chair c1970 to 1980s
N31Norton Fixed ChairReclining chair c1970 to 1980s
N32Norton 3-seater SofaReclining chair c1970 to 1980s
N57 & N58Sonata SuiteHigh-backed sofa and chairs, from early 1970s
N67 & N56Concorde SuiteCompact sofa and chairs, from early 1970s
N78?Contemporary high-backed chair c1970s
N102- N104, N105-N109, N115Evesham GroupDining and easy chairs and table
N110 & N111Ambassador Chair and SofaModern sofa and swivel chair from late 1960s to 1970s
N112, N113, N114Comus SystemUnit furniture from early 1970s
N116Nimrod ReclinerCompact reclining chair early 1970s
?KirnArmchair c1956-57
?PulfordContemporary armchair c1956
?WingfieldContemporary wing chair with sloping back c1957-1967
?MayfieldContemporary wing chair with sloping back c1957
?KinrossContemporary armchair c1957-8
?RowstockCompact armchair c1958
?MeranoContemporary wing chair c1958
?Tutshill Contemporary small armchair c1959
?SorrentoSofa to match Serino chair c1961
?Irlam chairOccasional chair, from mid-1970s
?FabrinoContemporary armchair c1962-1965
?NovaraRecliner c1969
?StrattonRocking chair with fixed base c1969
?BolaroArmchair and matching sofa c1965
?CavatinaContemporary three-piece suite
?Apollo Unit RangeFrom early 1970s
?StatesmanSwivel chair c1970

How to use the date information

Some models were produced for a considerable length of time. The Penshurst is still being made today and the Froxfield was made from 1955 to the 1980s. Others were very short-lived.

The dates shown above are where the model first appeared in Parker-Knoll's adverting. Where there is a range it shows the first and last dates we could find. It does not mean that the design was not produced after those dates. This list is a work in progress and we shall update the page as and when we obtain more information.

Parker Knoll wood finishes

Parker Knoll customers could choose from an extensive list of wood finishes for their chairs. In the 1960s the following were available:

The colours reflect contemporary taste. Lighter colours were in vogue in the first half of the 1950s. Mahogany and ebonised finish reflect tastes in the later 1950s and into the 1960s. The teak and rosewood finishes reflected an interest in Scandinavian style, which was becoming popular in the UK in the 1960s.

Parker Knoll usually supplied the Penshurst wing chair in antique walnut, although customers could ask for other finishes.

More information

See for more details.

Your comments

"Parker Knoll today is not the same company and no longer produce spares for the 'old range', the brand name was sold in 2005. I am looking for new rocker bushes for my Statesman chairs and they don't make them!!!!;" Michael Hawkesworth

"i remember going to vist my great grandfarther with the rest of the family and he was always sat in this rather lovely parker knoll chair! he was never out of it , that was his chair and no one else was aloud to sit in it! just shows that it must have been a gd chair!" Frances Keenan

"Hello, I wonder if you could help, i was left two small chairs which are very comfortable. The model is PK 1022-7. They need re-covering but i am interested to find out more about them as i have never seen this model anywhere before. Many thanks, " Mike Seaward

Hi Mike, A chair of similar model number sold on eBay recently. The seller dated it 1970, although I can't confirm it was the same design. Retrowow

"I have 2 Parker Knoll chairs that have Parker Knoll registered trademark on them but don't have a style number. They do have a small plaque that says 'Made in W.A. by Boans. European labour only' They have wooden arms and coil spring back and base. Could somebody please tell me something about them." lesley rasheed

"Hi,i have 6 Parker-knoll chairs stamped PARKER-KNOLL MODEL NO.P.K.751/2MK1 WOULD LIKE TO FIND OUT THEIR VALUE------We bought them second hand in the 1960's" stan burgess


"i have 2 parker knoll chairs maked mpk1140 what are worth" dickerson

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M Wood

I have 2 of PK918/919 Kedelston Traditional wing chair c1960-1962

If anyone is interested


Hi, I have seen a M PK 1450-66 but cannot find it anywhere else. Does anyone know why?

Deborah Sharpe

Does anyone know which Pk wingback chair is the largest? Looking for one to reupholster for my tall husband who likes to rest his head. Modern chairs have such low backs! The PK 720 is too low for example.


I have a single sofa bed, where the arms and back flip out to provide length and a side ‘table’. Struggling to find it’s name. I wonder if anyone can help?


Me too. It may be a Beverley Drop-End PK 1103

David Beaven

Steven, 77 items of Parker Knoll archive material are available on JSTOR website. Of particular interest to me was a catalogue from the 1930s with many more model numbers and photographs. Title is 'Parker Knoll Suspension booklet 4th edition'. Here is a link


Looks interesting. Thank you.

Retrowow - vintage, retro and social history

Mid Century ★ Facts & Figures ★ Collectibles

Retrowow - vintage, retro and social history

★ Mid Century ★ Facts & Figures ★ Collectibles ★