The Period Furniture Showrooms can be found at Beaconsfield, not far from the Roald Dahl Museum. Owner Richard Hearne may not be able to match Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - but thanks to a diary kept by members of his family for more than 100 years, he can spin plenty of fascinating yarns.

One of these concerns folding flat-pack chairs, a tale which transports us back to October, 1939. But first I need to return to a much earlier era . . .

In 1840, Queen Victoria married Prince Albert, Roland Hill introduced the Penny Post, Charles Barry commenced building the present Houses of Parliament and William Hearne of Penn Street sold his first piece of furniture. The family firm is now in its sixth generation.

William Hearne was a publican who ran a delightful country hostelry called the Hit and Miss in Penn Street. In his spare time, he made chairs in a workshop behind the pub, which still exists today.

William was a craftsman of the highest calibre. Demand for his work grew, so he trained his sons to help him.

Their fine handmade furniture was soon selling in London, and they moved to larger premises and took on extra labour.

The Hearne family kept meticulous records - and have full details of the pay of the men in the 1895 photograph on this page.

Richard said: "William Miles (on the right of the sign) was a framer. He assembled chairs from turned pieces which were bought from bodgers, who worked on lathes in sheds in the woods.

"William made six dozen 'regulars', a dozen spindlebacks, 12 arms and six child's chairs in a week, for which he was paid £1 and 19 old pence."

Through marriage, the firm became Dancer and Hearne. The new business prospered, and the family bought a sawmill and factory at nearby Holmer Green.

In 1934, to advertise their business they took a stand at a big trade show at London's White City. The giant's chair was made for the centrepiece of their display.

It obviously generated business because the company invested in new machinery, enabling them to produce 100,000 chairs a year. It was were poised for still further expansion when Richard's grandfather, also called William, retired in 1937.

Then came the outbreak of the Second World War.

The Government placed strict controls on access to materials and, in order to obtain the wood, the firm had to get a Government inspector's certificate.

"But," Richard explained "you couldn't get one for the kind of products we had been making."

The firm was faced with a dilemma. Would they have to close? Many Wycombe firms didn't survive.

Eric Hearne, who was contining the family tradition of diary keeping, recorded the problems of the time.

July 1, 1940: Great difficulty in getting timber.

August 23, 1940: Good news - order for 25,000 folding chairs and 5,000 Suffolks.

October 30, 1940: Mr Stokes been along to inspect folders - boozed him up at the Hit, then Dad took him to lunch - result Folders passed!

Dancer and Hearne went on to make 75,000 folding chairs for the armed forces. The chairs were sold after the war - and you may still come across them in village halls.

But the firm's wartime story does not end there. In October, 1939, Eric wrote in his diary: "Wilfred Ward (a buyer for De Havilland) rang up - wants us to make aeroplane wings."

Pioneering aircraft designer Geoffrey De Havilland, once resident in Oxford, had come up with a high-speed bomber with an airframe made of wood -called the Mosquito.

While the folding chairs paid the workers' wages, the Hearnes began researching aircraft manufacture.

The first problem was obtaining the right kind of wood and it wasn't available in the Chilterns, they had to go to Canada. The factory also had to be reorganised.

The firm went on to make wings for the Tiger Moth, the Airspeed Oxford, the Percival Proctor, the Falland Gnat, the Vampire and Venom.

But the wartime effort ended as suddenly as it began. Contracts were cancelled in August 1945 and in October of that year the firm's machine shop completed its last order.

So, If you discover a 1940s folding chair like the one in our photograph, a set of Edwardian spindlebacks or a fine leather upholstered captain's chair, circa 1958, then they may well have come from Dancer and Hearne.