1735 - 1745
Walnut, oak and deal construction, brass handles and hinges, gilt tooled leather
81.8 x 195.8 x 117.6 cm
Place of origin
LondonOrder this image
Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire (Accredited Museum)
On show at
A walnut and feather banded pedestal desk, London, circa 1735 The gilt tooled leather inset top with gadrooned edge above a panelled frieze with an arcaded moulding to the central panel and with four rectangular quatrefoil flowerhead carved rosettes, the pedestals with paneled cupboard doors enclosing four drawers to each and fitted retractable brass door stops. The drawers with inlaid alphabetical letters, one pedestal labeled A-H and the other R-Z. The opposite side also with paneled doors and drawers but without the lettering. All cupboard doors flanked by stop fluted pilasters and cross banded and feather banded panels. The sides of the desk have conforming friezes but incorporating deep long drawers and single cupboard doors to the centre also enclosing drawers and flanked by twin stop fluted pilasters. Each pedestal raised on a plinth base with carved mouldings.
The desk was purchased by Lord Fairhaven from J.M. Botibol, 20,26,28&30 Hanway Street, London W1 on 13th August 1946 for £4,200.00 The invoice reads: 'To a superb Geo. 1st walnut pedestal writing desk, the fluted pilasters having finely carved capitals, the frieze and skirting mouldings carved with bead and egg and tongue design, and the top edge finely carved with gadroon moulding, the six doors enclosing nests of drawers. Formerly the property of Sir Robert Walpole, at Houghton Hall, Norfolk' Further correspondence regarding the desk was received from Botibol via H. Wareham-Harding dated August 6th 1937: 'Dear Sirs, With reference to the walnut writing table lately sold by me to you. The table was made for Sir Robert Walpole the Prime Minister, for his mansion at Houghton Hall, in Norfolk. That estate and the contents was, on the death of Horace Walpole in 1797, last Earl of Oxford, inherited by the Earl of Cholmondeley, a descendant of Sir Robert's daughter. About 1830 the table was sold by the Earl to a nephew of his wife and remained in a castle in the country until I purchased it there a short time ago. I suggest that you read in a book published in 1921 by Country Life in London entitled 'English Homes' by Avray Tipping period V, vol.1, pp.67-110, where there is an illustration of Sir Robert's bedchamber with pilasters similar to the table. The gentleman from whom I purchased the table will not allow me to give his name. Yours truly H. Wareham-Harding' The design of the desk may have been based on drawings by the architect Colen Campbell (1676-1729). His major published work, Vitruvius Britannicus, or the British Architect... appeared in three volumes between 1715 and 1725. Campbell began work on Houghton Hall, Norfolk in 1722, for Sir Robert Walpole (1676-1745). Campbell was replaced by James Gibbs (1682 – 1754), who capped the end pavilions of Houghton with octagonal domes, and by William Kent, who designed the interiors. James Weedon (October 2017)
By repute made for Sir Robert Walpole, Houghton Hall, Norfolk circa 1735 and thence by descent to Horace Walpole, last Earl of Oxford. Thence by descent in 1979 to Lord Cholmondeley, a descendent of Sir Robert Walpole's daughter. Circa 1830 the desk was sold by the Earl to a nephew of his wife. Purchased by H. Wareham Harding, a furniture dealer circa 1937. Purchased by J. M. Botibol, a furniture dealer the same year. Purchased by Lord Fairhaven from Botibol 13th August 1946. Bequeathed to the National Trust by Huttleston Rogers Broughton, 1st Lord Fairhaven (1896-1966) with the house and the rest of the contents.