Archibald Knox (1864 – 1933) was a gifted artist and craftsman, most famous for his work with the Liberty Arts and Crafts furniture company. The creative force behind their famous Cymric and Tudric Celtic Revival ware (for which he received no recognition in his lifetime) he was responsible for many of the Art Nouveau designs gracing antique desks and cabinets today.
Archibald Knox was born at Cronkbourne, on the Isle of Man, the son of William Knox, a successful Scottish engineer. He studied at the Douglas School of Art, and then began teaching the subject, receiving his Art Master’s Certificate in 1889.
A spiritual, solitary man, Knox had a profound understanding of the Manx landscape. He was greatly influenced by the intertwined designs on the island’s Celtic stone crosses, and the “Celtic Knot” became Knox’s trademark, featuring on everything from carpets to jewellery. He was also fascinated by Celtic illuminated manuscripts like the Book of Kells, interpreting the interwoven vines and stylised animals, leaves and birds into modified forms that would later become trademarks of the English Art Nouveau movement.
Knox came under the scrutiny of the architect M.H. Baillie Scott, who persuaded him to move to the English mainland. He began teaching at the Redhill School of Art, in Surrey, coming under the guidance of Christopher Dresser, a distinguished silverware and ceramics designer. Knox then began working at Liberty of London , creating silverware, pewterware and jewellery – including his famous Tudric and Cymric pieces. He also designed ceramics, garden ornaments, carpets and textiles; his fabric designs appearing on antique dining chairs of the period. He ended his contract with Liberty in 1912, spending a year in America before returning to the Isle of Man, where he lived as an artist recluse until his death.
Knox was held in extremely high esteem by Liberty, who commissioned him to design Arthur Lasenby Liberty’s headstone after his death in 1917. Today, Knox’s inkwells, decanters and silverware make perfect accessories for the antique cabinets and desks of the Art Nouveau period.
Arthur Simpson is one of the forgotten masters of English Arts & Crafts Furniture. Born in Cumbria, in 1857, he showed an early flair for wood carving, taking two apprenticeships and working in London before returning to Kendal to establish his famous Handicrafts workshop. The clean simple lines and superb workmanship of his Arts & Crafts furniture found a ready market locally. Simpson died in 1922, but the workshop continued under the guidance of his son until 1950. Many of Simpson’s finely crafted antique cabinets, chairs and chests can still be found in Cumbria today.
Antique cabinets for Cumbria’s clergy
Arthur Simpson started his apprenticeship at the age of 14, with a Kendal cabinet maker. At the age of 18 he transferred his skills to Gillow’s of Lancaster, where he showed tremendous scope as a woodcarver. Simpson then worked under Samuel Barfield in Leicester, returning to Kendal as an ‘Architectural and General Wood Carver’.
Initially, he didn’t meet with much success. A devout Quaker, Simpson’s early work was mainly ecclesiastical in nature, similar to other neo-Gothic styles of the period. In despair he went to London, finding work with H. Faulkner Armitage of Altrincham, where he quickly discovered what the current trends were.
In 1885, Simpson returned to Kendal, this time concentrating on both the ecclesiastical and domestic market. He was so successful that he was able to move to larger premises and, by 1888, was employing several workers. It was at this time the Handicrafts workshop was established.
From neo-Gothic to Arts & Crafts Furniture
Simpson’s early period lasted until the 1890s, still heavily influenced by his church commissions. His antique chests and cabinets from this period are traditionally designed, and intricately carved with floral motifs. Where signed, they’re carved with his initials AWS.
The breakthrough came in 1889, when a piece was selected for the London Arts and Crafts Society Exhibition. From then until 1914 his style changed dramatically; his antique bookcases, wardrobes, cabinets and chairs adorned with a more formalised, abstract style of carving. To emphasise this new, minimal approach, Simpson used light English oak; oiled, polished and waxed to reveal its natural beauty. He had more than 60 timber suppliers on his books – to him, the beauty and quality of the wood was everything.
A meeting of two Arts and Crafts masters
In the early 1900s, Simpson struck up an unlikely friendship with the urbane Arts and Crafts designer and architect C.F. A. Voysey, who designed Simpson’s lakeland house in 1908. Simpson was highly influenced by Voysey’s style between 1900 and 1910, his antique bookcases and cabinets now light, spacious and free of ornamentation. His antique dining chairs often feature leather seats and high cut-out backs.
Simpson abandoned Voysey and turned to the Scottish Revivalists for inspiration around 1908. The antique chests and cabinets he produced in Cumbria at the time again featuring intricate carving and fine embellishments. By the time he died in 1922, the demand was for “modern” furniture – which his son answered by reinventing traditional pieces. Enduring two world wars and the Great Depression unscathed, Handicrafts finally shut its doors in 1950 – but the beauty and simplicity of Arthur Simpson’s Arts & Crafts furniture lives on, in the homes and antique dealerships of Cumbria.
Bruce James Talbert
Bruce James Talbert was born in Dundee in1838, and was a prolific and influential furniture designer. Widely seen as one of the pioneers of the Aesthetic movement, he was a leader of the Reformed Gothic and Gothic Revival styles. His antique cabinets, chairs, tables and chests incorporated decorative carvings, chamfered edges and pierced and inlaid motifs, often with an ecclesiastical theme. Today, his elaborate Victorian dining chairs and wardrobes epitomise the “Art for art’s sake” ethos of the Victorian Aesthetes, and are widely sought at auction.
Talbert was initially employed as a woodcarver. This did not prove successful, and he left to work for the Dundee architect Charles Edward, designing the heraldic decorations for the newly built Kinnaird Hall. Shortly after this, he moved to Glasgow, then to Manchester where he worked as a cabinet maker. He then worked for Skidmore’s of Coventry; here he drew up designs for George Gilbert Scott’s Hereford Cathedral rood screen and Albert Memorial. In 1866 he moved to London, working on designs for the Paris Exhibition for Holland & Sons. This won him more commissions for ecclesiastical metalwork, as well as furniture for Gillows, and he wrote a book on Gothic design. However, his health suffered and he returned to Dundee.
Around 1870 he returned to London, working for Gillows, Cox & Co and the Coalbrookdale Iron Company as well as exhibiting at the Royal Academy. In 1873 he opened a shop in Gower Street with stained glass artist George Cook, later taking a house and studio in Euston Square with his wife. He published another book in 1876, but by now he was burdened with a prodigious number of commissions from Collinson & Lock , Marsh Jones & Cribb, Vaughan & Sons, Caleb Trapnell, Templetons Carpets and many others.
Talbert’s accolade was winning the Grand Prix at the 1878 Paris Exhibition, for his Jackson & Graham Juno Cabinet. Sadly, he was overcome by chronic overwork and alcoholism, dying at the age of just 43. However, his beautifully elaborate antique tables, chairs and sideboards can be found at auctions across Britain and Europe.
Charles Francis Annesley Voysey was an important figure in the English Arts and Crafts movement. An outstanding architect and interior designer, he built a number of country houses, especially in the Lake District. Most of the antique dining tables , chairs, bookcases and other Voysey antiques sold in Cumbria today originated from these properties. C.F.A Voysey’s Arts and Crafts furniture is highly collectable, with a timeless quality that is totally in keeping with modern interiors.
C.F.A. Voysey was born in Yorkshire in 1857, the son of a nonconformist minister. This spiritual upbringing, coupled with his rural surroundings, was to have a strong influence on Voysey’s work. Privately educated, he studied architecture and design under J. P. Seddon and others before establishing his own practice in 1882.
Initially Voysey focussed on textiles and wallpapers, supplying designs to Liberty, Alexander Morton and others. A shrewd businessman, he kept and reused many of his patterns, which featured birds, exotic flora and, later, heraldry symbols.
Voysey later branched into architectural design. His main period of house-building was between 1895 and 1910, which coincides with his most prolific period of furniture design. Most Voysey antiques, such as his antique dining chairs and cabinets, were originally destined for his houses, which he believed should be spiritual and uplifting. His furniture, like his panelling, made extensive use of unstained light oak, avoiding heavy ornamentation in favour of simplicity and restraint. Decoration was sparse but well employed; Voysey’s trademarks include decorative heart and bird motifs, and Puginesque strap hinges, which were used extensively on his antique chests, bookcases and cabinets.
Unlike Morris, Voysey was happy to utilise machinery, working around its constraints to produce varied and ingenious workmanship. A Cumbrian antique dealer may have a set of tapered, rectangular Victorian antique dining chairs one day, and a pair of elaborate pegged Swan chairs the next. Voysey antique tables are similarly eclectic in design.
The V&A owns an extensive Voysey fabric collection, and several modern designers have created authentic reproductions – the perfect way to show off your antique Arts & Crafts furniture.
Charles Robert Ashbee (1863–1942) was an architect, writer and designer of Arts & Crafts Furniture.
A philanthropist and social reformer, he founded the Guild of Handicraft School, an Arts and Crafts commune in line with the co-operative socialism of William Morris. As well as a skilled metalworker, Ashbee was also an accomplished cabinetmaker, working with Baillie Scott among others.
Jewellery, communes and Arts & Crafts Furniture
Ashbee was born into a progressive household. While at King’s College, Cambridge, he became strongly influenced by William Morris and John Ruskin. Following a tenure with the architect George Frederick Bodley, he decided to found a co-operative combining art with education and, in 1888, the Guild and School of Handicraft was opened. The concept was simple: To set high standards of craftsmanship, combining the independence of the traditional craftsman with the ethics of the trade shop.
Initially sited in the East End of London, the Guild expanded rapidly. It specialised in jewellery, enamel, furniture design and metalwork – which often features in Ashbee’s antique cabinets and writing desks.
antique chests with Grand designs
Producing such designs as miniature antique chests with solid silver handles, the Guild gained a following of wealthy patrons, eventually opening a retail outlet in Mayfair. One of Ashbee’s most important commissions was a suite of furniture made for the Grand Duke of Hessen, Darmstadt, to designs by M.H. Baillie Scott.
By 1902, the School was suffering heavy competition in London, and Ashbee decided to move to Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds. But the Arts & Crafts furniture market was by this time saturated, and the Guild folded in 1907. Ashbee turned to architectural design, building and furnishing properties in the UK and abroad. He eventually settled in Jerusalem, where he stayed until his death.
Those in Lancashire wanting to see antique marquetry furniture by C.R Ashbee can visit the Cheltenham museum, where one of his antique desks is on display. Its Arts & Crafts tulip motifs are considered to be works of art. The V & A also has a large collection of works by C.R. Ashbee and the Guild.
Charles Bevan (d. 1882) was an English Gothic Revival designer, acclaimed for his ornate antique marquetry furniture . Little is known about his private life. However, he worked with a number of furniture manufacturers and designers, including Gillows and J. P. Seddon, and his work was widely chronicled in catalogues and periodicals.
Gothic antique desk
Bevan was born in the late 1820s. He is thought to have been trained by the Gothic Revivalist J. P. Seddon, an architect and furniture designer. Seddon was certainly an inspiration for Bevan’s first known piece, a Davenport in Reformed Gothic Geometric Style. This antique desk was published in Building News, in 1865.
He then began designing chairs for Marsh & Jones of Leeds, who had a London showroom near his workshop. Later, they worked together on commissions for Yorkshire industrialist Sir Titus Salt. This included an elaborate bedroom suite and a marquetry grand piano, which Bevan described as mediaeval. The patterns of these items define him as a master craftsman of antique marquetry furniture in the Geometric style.
An antique bookcase designed by Bevan in 1867, for the Manchester company James Lamb, was exhibited at the Paris Exposition. A year later he began designing for Gillows. The ebonized, metal-embellished antique cabinets he showed at the1872 International Exhibition can now be seen at the V&A.
Designer and maker of antique marquetry furniture
Together with William Burges and Bruce J. Talbert, Bevan was described as a Modern Gothic Furniture designer. However, he was also a woodcarver and cabinetmaker of some distinction. In 1872 he set up a partnership with his son, manufacturing marquetry antique bookcases and Victorian dining chairs until his death.
People in Cumbria can see his antique cabinets and Gothic Revival Victorian dining chairs on display at museums like the V & A in London, as well as in stately homes. Bevan’s antique marquetry furniture does come up at private sales from time to time – but expect to pay around £12,000 – £18,000 for a satinwood antique cabinet.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) was one of the most significant figures in the history of Arts & Crafts Furniture, and a major influence on the Art Nouveau movement. A talented architect, designer and artist, he was central to the development of the Glasgow Style of design. He had few clients, yet his distinctive stained glass panels elegant Victorian dining chairs are known the world over.
Mackintosh was apprenticed to architects Honeyman and Keppie in 1889, also studying at the Glasgow School of Art. His first major architectural commission was the Glasgow Herald Building (1894), which showed amazing innovation and maturity.
Antique bookcases and the Glasgow School
Mackintosh believed that designers and architects should have freedom of expression, and began experimenting with design, aided by his friends Herbert MacNair and Frances and Margaret Macdonald (who he later married). Dubbed the Spook School, they established the Glasgow Style.
In 1896 Mackintosh, was awarded a major commission to design a new wing for the Glasgow School of Art. Constructed in two stages, it was Mackintosh’s most important work, containing baronial Scottish, rustic Japanese and many other elements. The Library is a complex geometry of timber posts and beams, complemented by dark slender antique bookcases and elegantly pierced chairs.
The Victorian dining chairs of the Cranston tearooms
Mackintosh’s best-known works were for Catherine Cranston, who commissioned him for her tearooms between 1896 and 1917. He was allowed complete freedom of expression, providing everything from the light fittings to the cutlery. The dramatic high-backed Victorian dining chairs, so prized by Lancashire collectors, are still copied by designers today.
Another important commission was Hill House, for publisher Walter Blackie. However, Mackintosh had only a few patrons, his ethic of total design making him unpopular with clients. His last public commission was a Glasgow school, in 1906. Further work followed, but it was largely met with indifference.
Mackintosh moved to London, where he began working in a bold new abstract style. However, it largely went unnoticed. Today, of course, his genius is recognised, and in Cumbria his antique dining tables and elegant chairs sell for many thousands of pounds.
A botanist, cabinet maker, designer and writer, Christopher Dresser was a pioneer in the world of Arts and Crafts furniture . Born in Glasgow, in 1834 (the same year as William Morris), he is widely acknowledged as the first independent British industrial designer, a true innovator whose furniture and objets d’art were a total antipode to the mass-produced factory ware of the era. His sleek, minimalist Victorian antique dining chairs , for example, were years ahead of their time.
At the unusually young age of 13, Dresser won a scholarship to London’s Government School of Design. Initially, however, his interest was in botany. Having gained a doctorate at the University of Jena, he lectured in botany at the Department of Science and Art in South Kensington. At this time he became influenced by the rules of design in Owen Jones’ book, “Grammar of Ornament”; its propositions became a guiding factor throughout Dresser’s career. His own work, “The Art of Decorative Design” was published in 1862.
Dresser wrote and lectured extensively on both botany and design, but in 1860 he decided to concentrate on the latter and established a studio at home. His work at this time was highly influenced by botanical design, applying the ethos of a function for everything, coupled with beauty and simplicity of form. Later, he became influenced by Japanese and Asian design, with simple, geometric lines and economic use of materials. Working with a range of media, including wood, iron, japanned metal, ceramics, electroplate and clouded glass, his aim was to produce everything needed to furnish the modern home.
By 1871 Dresser was a designer for a large number of manufacturers, producing textile, metalwork, glass, ceramic and wallpaper designs for manufacturers like Minton, Wedgewood, Coalbrookdale and Couper Glass, who often used the Dresser name as a marketing tool. At his zenith, Dresser employed over 20 assistants, some of whom went on to become important Arts and Crafts furniture designers in their own right.
Totally functional, radically different and years ahead of their time, Dresser’s antique dining chairs, toast racks, teapots, glassware and antique tables are eminently collectable.
Collinson & Lock
Collinson & Lock were one of the foremost producers of Aesthetic and Art Nouveau furniture in London. A large collection of their work is on display at the V & A museum, including an antique cabinet shown at the 1871 London International Exhibition.
The company was established in the 1860s by F.G. Collinson and G.J. Lock, who worked for Jackson & Graham, a firm famous for its machine-made antique marquetry furniture . This was to become a feature of Collinson & Lock’s own work.
Art Nouveau antique dining chairs and exhibition antique cabinets
Collinson & Lock achieved early success, employing some of the leading designers of the Aesthetic Art Movement. This included the architect T.E.Collcutt, who designed their new premises, and J Moyr-Smith, who was assistant to Christopher Dresser and produced an impressive catalogue of their furniture in 1871. Other names associated with the firm include Stephen Webb (their senior designer); H.W. Batley and A.H. Mackmurdo – a precursor of his Art Nouveau Victorian dining chairs is on display in the V & A.
In 1873 the company moved to St Bride Street, experimenting with new materials and techniques. Their antique marquetry furniture, incorporating rosewood, ivory and Pietre Dure marble mosaics – a 16th century Renaissance art form – is an example of this. Antique dealers in Preston and Lancashire see their intricate Italianate arabesques, scrolling foliage and carved figures as indicative of Stephen Webb, who together with H. Batley worked on the new Savoy Theatre in 1881. By contrast, the company also produced furniture for G.E Street’s Royal Courts of Justice.
Collinson & Lock also produced some outstanding international exhibition pieces. An ebonised antique cabinet, shown at the London International Exhibition in 1871, was purchased for the V & A museum in the same year, other versions being shown in Vienna and America. At the 1878 Paris Exposition, they exhibited a number of Anglo-Japanese pieces by E.W Godwin, their most important designer, leading to international recognition.
In 1885 they bought Jackson & Graham, but it was not a success and in 1897 they were themselves taken over by E. W Godwin of Lancaster. They continued producing fine furniture, however, and in Lancashire their antique cabinets, Victorian dining chairs and antique desks regularly turn up in antique shops.
Ernest Archibald Taylor (1874 – 1951) was a prestigious Scottish painter; one of the Kirkcudbright School of artists. However, during his early career he was also a skilled designer of stained glass and Arts & Crafts Furniture, working for Wylie and Lochhead and Wragge and Co. His angular, tapered Victorian dining chairs and lead-glass embellished antique cabinets are highly sought after at auctions.
E.A. Taylor was born in Greenock, Scotland, one of seventeen children. He was initially apprenticed as an engineer and designer in the shipbuilding firm Scott and Co, working there until 1898. He then began studying at the Glasgow School of Art, where his fiancée, Jessie King, was also a student. The Glasgow style of Arts &Crafts furniture was well established by then, and Taylor began work as an interior designer, being particularly influenced by the stained glass and furniture designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh .
Taylor gained employment with the Glasgow cabinet-makers, Wylie and Lochhead, winning great acclaim for his Arts and Crafts furniture at the 1901 Glasgow International Exhibition. This brought him two major commissions, where he made prominent use of stained glass in his interiors. In 1902, Taylor and Jessie worked together on a series of beautiful stained glass panels for the Turin International Exhibition of Modern Decorative Art and, by 1907, Taylor was working as head of furniture design at Wragge and Co, marrying Jessie the following year. The couple then began concentrating on art, moving to Paris where they established an art school.
Prior to her marriage, Jessie had purchased a house at Kirkcudbright, and at the outbreak of World War I she and Taylor returned there. Here, they became tightly embroiled in the Kirkcudbright art community, which was seen as the “Scottish St Ives.” Taylor continued to play a major part in the Kirkcudbright art scene until his death in 1951.
The majority of E.A. Taylor’s antique cabinets, dining chairs, and other Arts & Crafts furniture date from his days with Wylie and Lochhead. The contents of one of his post-Exhibition commissions can be seen at Glasgow Museums.
Edward Barnsley (1900-1987) was one of the leading 20th century furniture designers. Son of the Cotswold Arts & Crafts furniture craftsman Sidney Barnsley, he was heavily influenced by his father’s design methods. However, his antique dining tables and cabinets are lighter, using imported hardwoods, electric machining methods and a team of craftsmen. Today, an Educational Trust ensures that furniture of the quality of Edward Barnsley’s antique cabinets continues to be made.
Edward Barnsley grew up in the Cotswolds, influenced by the work of the Barnsley Brothers and Ernest Gimson, who founded the Cotswold School. In 1910 he went to the progressive school of Bedales, in Hampshire, which encouraged the learning of crafts and other practical skills. In 1920 he took up an apprenticeship with the designer Geoffrey Lupton, making furniture as well as working on a new library at Bedales, designed by Gimson.
In 1923 Edward took over Lupton’s workshop and workforce. His antique dining tables and chairs from this period clearly reflect his father’s Arts and Crafts style, while making adjustments towards a more modern movement. The workshop remained buoyant during the depression and war years, inheriting many clients after Sidney Barnsley died.
During Edward’s lifetime, his workshop produced around 7,000 individually crafted pieces. He aimed to keep the spirit of Arts & Crafts furniture alive, combining his father’s craftsmanship with the elegant lines and fine inlays of 18th century court furniture. He imported timbers such as blackbean and rosewood, to complement the English oak and walnut of the Arts and Crafts movement. Edward was always wary of mechanisation. Electricity did not arrive at the workshop until 1955 – and even then, only to do the more mundane tasks like sawing.
Awarded the CBE in 1945, Edward was instrumental in the founding of the Crafts Council. The Edward Barnsley Educational Trust was set up in 1980 to secure the future of the workshop, and ensure that the chairs being hand-crafted today will become sought-after antique dining chairs tomorrow.
Edward William Godwin
Edward William Godwin was a late 19th Century architect and furniture designer who became a key figure in the Aesthetic movement. A self-taught architect in the neo-Gothic style, he later became one of the most important figures of the Victorian Japonisme style of furniture design. Examples of his striking ebonised antique cabinets and tiered tables can be seen at the New York Museum of Modern Art.
Godwin was born in Bristol on 26 May1833. Educated in London, he returned to Bristol as an apprentice architect. He ended up teaching himself the craft, leaving to set up his own business in 1854 designing buildings in the Venetian-inspired polychromatic neo-Gothic style. Unable to find furniture and fittings to match the quality of his work, he designed those as well.
Godwin’s commissions included designing Northampton Town Hall, and alterations to Dromore Castle. As time progressed he gained a preference for Japanese design, which he began to incorporate into his interiors, as in the furniture for Dromore Castle. The style, which was coined “Anglo-Japanese”, sought to capture the clean lines and simplicity of Japanese design, while making it desirable for the Victorian domestic environment. Later, he became involved with theatrical costume and stage design while with the actress Ellen Terry, which led to commissions for Liberty.
Original Godwin designs can sell for tens of thousands of pounds. However, many of the designs for Godwin’s antique cabinets and tables were sold to other companies, and may appear under their names. As well as furniture he designed textiles, wallpapers, tiles and metalwork, and wrote several architectural books. In the last 10 years of his life, Godwin designed several stunning buildings, such as James McNeill Whistler’s Chelsea White House, and the front entrance of the Fine Art Society.
Godwin originals often turn up as heirlooms – and are potentially very valuable. In 2006 one of the antique tables at a Cheltenham sale was listed as an Eastern Walnut three-tiered piece, with an estimated price of £150 – £200. Someone identified it as the work of Edward Godwin, at which point the price was radically upgraded to £80,000.
Ernest William Gimson (1864 – 1919) was an architect and Arts and Crafts furniture designer who founded the movement known as the Cotswold School. Although he built a number of country houses, his true skill lay in his antique marquetry furniture , chests and ironwork. Gimson’s Arts and Crafts furniture utilises many cross-cultural references, with elegant lines and simple, but effective ornamentation.
Born in Leicester, Gimson initially trained with the architect Isaac Barradale. In the 1880s he met William Morris, who recommended him to the London architect John Dando Sedding. Here, Gimson developed an interest in natural craft techniques, working alongside Ernest Barnsley while learning traditional furniture skills and plasterwork.
In the 1890s Gimson formed a furniture company with Sidney Barnsley and others, eventually moving to the Cotswolds. In 1900 he set up a furniture workshop in Cirencester. Later he moved to Sapperton, where he designed furniture until his death. His large team of craftsmen, led by cabinet-maker Peter van der Waals, later relocated to new premises in Chalford.
Gimson’s Arts & Crafts Furniture was as diverse as it was inspired. Made with woods like oak and cherry, derived from local sources, he left technical features such as dovetail joints and dowels exposed to reveal the craftsmanship. Later he used metalwork to embellish his antique chests and cabinets. He also made use of agricultural styles, such as chamfered hayrake stretchers and open-work wagon rails.
Gimson’s church commissions were ornate, his designs often inspired by Gujarati, Venetian or Byzantine styles. His antique chests and caskets were furnished with mother-of-pearl or silver, his antique marquetry furniture decorated with leaves and flowers.
When asked to design furniture for “grander” homes he often returned to the craftsmanship of the 17th century French palaces, but ornamentation was always secondary to design. Macassar ebony and holly stringing, figured Birdlip oak and English walnut detailing, simple gougework, forged ironwork, multi fielded panels and bowed, curved and canted lines gave his antique cabinets elegance, beauty and function. Today, Gimson’s antique chests and cabinets can be seen at venues like the Leicester Museum and Owlpen Manor.
George Faulkner Armitage
George Faulkner Armitage (1849-1937) was a prolific Victorian architect and Arts & Crafts Furniture designer, who lived and worked in Manchester and London. Famous for his beautifully carved antique cabinets and sideboards, he was commissioned by the Fine Art Society to design furniture and interiors for their showrooms. In Lancashire his antique cabinets, with their moulded cornices and overlapping friezes of finely carved sunflowers, are highly sought after.
Armitage was the son of a wealthy mill owner, who founded the Armitage & Rigby cotton milling company. His mill in Warrington was one of the largest in Lancashire. Armitage, however, decided to study architecture instead. Having qualified, he opened a studio at his home in Altrincham, later opening more studios in Manchester and London.
Arts & Crafts furniture – or Gothic Revival?
Much of Armitage’s early Arts & Crafts Furniture was made in Lancashire and Cheshire. He oversaw the design of his Stamford House studio, designing elements in both wood and metal. He then won a commission for the pulpit of Warrington’s Wycliffe Congregational Church, in 1873. He worked on designs for Mansfield College, with Basil Champneys, before being commissioned by Charles Nevill to redesign the interiors of Bramall Hall in Cheshire.
Although George Faulkner Armitage was considered to be of the Gothic Revival school, he was more heavily influenced by the Arts & Crafts Furniture movement. His Bramall Hall interiors are defined by light coloured woods, organic motifs and simple harmony of design – all elements of the Arts and Crafts movement.
Armitage then re-decorated the interiors of the Liverpool Reform Club, before undertaking London commissions for the Devonshire Club and the Fine Art Society, the exteriors of which were modelled by Edward William Godwin .
Exhibition grade antique cabinets
Armitage entered his antique cabinets into a number of exhibitions in England and Paris. In 1899 he won a gold medal for his work on the British Council Chamber in Paris. He later became Mayor of Altrincham.
Armitage’s Victorian dining chairs and antique cabinets are among the finest of their kind, a perfect balance between Victorian gothic and the rustic simplicity of the Arts & Crafts furniture movement.
George Henry Walton
George Henry Walton (1867 – 1933) was a noted Glaswegian designer and architect. Greatly influenced by William Morris and James Whistler, he was one of the pioneers of the distinctive Glasgow Style of Arts and Crafts. In the 1880s, he assisted Charles Rennie Mackintosh with the interiors of Miss Cranston’s Tearooms. He also designed antique dining chairs and antique cabinets for Liberty.
Walton was born into a talented, artistic family. Following his father’s death in 1879, Walton began work as a bank clerk, studying part-time at the Glasgow School of Art. While here, he became involved with Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style of design.
By 1888, George Walton was working with Mackintosh, and was commissioned to decorate a new smoking room in one of the Cranston tea rooms. This inspired him to establish his own interior design company of George Walton & Co, making furniture, stained glass and panelling for homes and churches. In 1896 he was commissioned to furnish Cranston’s Buchanan Street tea room, following which he set up a house and studio in Bayswater, London. Here, he undertook various commissions, including the furnishing of several Eastman Kodak showrooms in London and Europe, which brought him great acclaim.
Walton opened further workshops in York and his home-town of Glasgow between 1898 and 1900, following which he began designing entire houses, having learned construction from his colleague Fred Rowntree. In 1903 he resigned from George Walton & Co, and by 1905 the company had been folded by its partners.
Walton continued working as a private architect and designer, but never regained recognition. By the1930s he was reduced to designing textiles in Carlisle, but the interest in Art Nouveau was at an end. He died unemployed in Hythe, Kent, in 1933.
Today, George Walton is once more in vogue, with his Arts & Crafts Furniture fetching good prices in auctions. His work is recognised in a permanent exhibition at Glasgow Museum. The display includes antique cabinets, stained glass panels, antique tables and dining chairs – many from the Cranston Tea rooms.
George Washington Henry Jack (1855 – 1931) was an American-born architect and Arts and Crafts Furniture designer. He was the chief Arts & Crafts Furniture designer for William Morris. However, although many of Jack’s exquisitely carved chairs and antique cabinets were produced for the Morris company, he had a successful enterprise of his own, and his designs stand firmly on their own merits.
George Jack and English Arts and Crafts Furniture
George Jack was born on Long Island, New York, of Scottish parents. Upon his father’s death in 1860, he was brought back to Glasgow. Here, he was apprenticed to Horatio Bromhead before moving to London, where he eventually joined the office of Philip Webb in 1880.
Webb is considered the Father of Arts and Crafts Architecture. He was also a gifted furniture designer, collaborating with Morris and Burne-Jones from 1858 onwards. Buyers in Cumbria pay large sums for his Victorian dining chairs and antique cabinets, but George Jack is no less esteemed. His skills in woodcraft so impressed Webb that he introduced him to William Morris, and from1885 onwards George Jack was employed by Morris & Co as a furniture designer.
Arts & Crafts Furniture – or Art Nouveau?
George Jack’s elaborately carved Victorian dining chairs and settees were the perfect match for Morris’ colourful textile designs, leading some to suggest influence from the European Art Nouveau movement. Morris, Jack and Webb undoubtedly saw the potential of what was perceived as a passing fad by other English Arts and Crafts Furniture designers – though their style was resolutely their own.
In 1896, the Central School of Arts and Crafts was founded, aided by sponsorship from William Morris and John Ruskin (another important figure in Arts & Crafts Furniture, who lived in Cumbria.) Morris died the same year, and George Jack became a founding lecturer at the school. He later took over Philip Webb’s architectural practice, publishing his seminal work, “Woodcarving, Design and Workmanship” in 1903.
Arts & Crafts Furniture enthusiasts in Cumbria wanting something a little more decorative than normal should consider the carved antique cabinets and chairs of George Jack, who continued working up to and after WWI.
Gillows of Lancaster
Gillows of Lancaster is renowned in the world of fine furniture, with antique cabinets by this Lancashire firm held in the same esteem as those of Sheraton and Chippendale. Gillows was producing antique dining chairs and other fine furniture for over 200 years – the majority of it for the aristocracy and upper classes. Tatton Park, in Cheshire, is a masterpiece of Gillows antiques, with over 200 privately commissioned pieces in their original setting.
The company was established by Robert Gillow (1704-1772). Born in Fylde, Lancashire, he travelled to Lancaster to train as a cabinetmaker, initially working as a ship’s carpenter. Lancaster was a major trading port at this time, and Robert was able to forge important links with the West Indies, importing high quality mahogany from Jamaica, Cuba and the Honduras after setting up his business.
Antique cabinets from Lancashire to Lincoln
In the 1740s, Gillow opened a London warehouse, gaining him national recognition. The use of finely crafted mahogany – a key feature of Robert Gillow’s exquisite antique bookcases and cabinets – enabled this humble Lancashire lad to establish a name for himself with the English nobility and upper-classes. In return for mahogany imports, he also began exporting furniture to the West Indies, quickly establishing himself as a cabinetmaker of international importance.
Robert Gillow was later joined by his sons, Richard and Robert, who helped develop the company’s reputation. Important commissions were secured, furnishing public buildings in Australia, South Africa, Europe, Russia, India and even the US.
Extending antique tables – a Lancashire invention
Richard Gillow was himself a master craftsman. Following his father’s death, he began working on innovative new designs of his own, aided by his brother Robert, who ran the London branch of the company and therefore had his finger on the pulse of the latest trends and fashions. Extending antique tables were a Lancashire invention, developed by Richard Gillow.
Between 1750 and 1811 the firm reached its zenith, producing the finest furniture ever to come out of Lancashire. The antique chests, tables and cabinets of this period were produced by the pick of Lancashire’s craftsmen, as Richard was a popular and much-loved figure able to secure honest, gifted employees easily. He was also a trained architect, building and furnishing several notable public buildings in the Lancashire area.
Hand-crafted Victorian dining chairs
By the time Richard’s son (also called Richard), succeeded him in the firm, Gillows had entered the age of Victorian mass-production. However, the company continued to expand, offering value for money while maintaining traditional cabinetmaking methods. The company worked with Pugin on the interiors of the Palace of Westminster, around 1840, later diversifying into fitting out passenger liners and luxury yachts.
This effectively takes the story of this famous Lancashire company full circle. The last antique dining chairs and antique cabinets by Gillows of Lancaster were crafted no later than 1903, when the firm merged with S.J Waring to form Waring and Gillow.
The patterns for Gillows commissions, such as inlaid antique bookcases and gilded Victorian dining chairs, were kept in Lancashire under lock-and-key. Today, these unique books provide Lancashire antique dealers with a detailed record of every antique desk and cabinet Gillows ever made, making authentication and valuation an easy process
Sir (Sydney) Gordon Russell (1892-1982) was one of the most important figures in the history of 20th century furniture. From his early Cotswold Arts and Crafts furniture , to the modernist antique desks of the post-war period, he managed to embrace mass production and mechanisation without losing the underlying concepts of high quality craftsmanship. The history of his antique cabinets, tables, chairs and concept furniture can be tracked at the Gordon Russell Museum, housed in his original workshop premises in Worcestershire.
Russell spent his early years in Cricklewood, London, before moving to the Cotswolds town of Broadway in 1904, when his father bought the Lygon Arms Hotel. Upon finishing his education he was put in charge of the family workshop, repairing the hotel’s antique furniture. After gaining military honours in World War I, he returned to the family business and began making Arts & Crafts furniture for retail. After marrying in 1921 he began experimenting with modern styles – beginning with the marriage bed.
In 1923 Russell expanded the business and invested in modern machinery. His aim was to combine Arts and Crafts workmanship with mass-production to produce high quality furniture affordable to everyone. This ranged from homely dining tables to elaborate antique marquetry furniture , such as the 1925 print cabinet now residing in the Cheltenham Museum.
In 1929 he founded Gordon Russell Ltd, finding a market in America. The Depression caused a downturn, but he kept afloat designing and making Murphy radio cabinets. These antique cabinets are still popular auction pieces today.
In 1938 Russell set up the Good Furnishing Group, promoting the retailing of high-quality, mass produced furniture. During the war he spearheaded the government’s utility furniture scheme, and in the post-war years took posts leading to directorship of the Design Centre. He played a leading role in the Festival of Britain in 1951, and was knighted in1955. He retired to the Cotswolds in 1958, but remained closely connected with his company until his death.
Gordon Russell’s antique cabinets, desks and bookcases continue to be in demand today, evoking images of the very best in 18th century design – with a modern touch.
Heals of London
Heals today is known as one of the top retail stores in London, which has been trading since 1810. But antique collectors from Preston know it for the iconic Arts & Crafts furniture of Ambrose Heal, grandson of the founder. Those from Lancashire can view his antique cabinets, Victorian dining chairs and antique desks in person or online, at the V & A museum.
Heals of London was established in 1810 by bedding manufacturer John Harris Heal . But it was Ambrose Heal who was to have the greatest impact, establishing the definitive style seen in Heals antique cabinets and Victorian dining chairs of Lancashire dealers today.
The Arts & Crafts Furniture of Ambrose Heal
Ambrose Heal left school to embark on a variety of apprenticeships – encountering the same standard taste in furniture mimicked by his father’s own store. However, Ambrose had an individual and progressive talent, which he brought to bear on his own designs.
An antique desk, chest and wardrobe by Heal were exhibited at the Arts and Crafts Society Exhibition of 1899. He continued exhibiting, joining the Society in 1906, and the Art Workers’ Guild in 1910. He began selling his Arts & Crafts furniture through the family firm – causing dissent among the workers still making traditional, elaborate pieces. However, when C.R. Ashbee took his Guild of Handicraft to Chipping Camden in 1902, Ambrose Heal was able to recruit some of the craftsmen wanting to remain in London, establishing a niche.
Heals continued to promote harmonious design and simplicity of ornament, whilst satisfying conventional tastes through its “antique” furniture department. With Arts & Crafts Furniture in decline by 1915, Ambrose Heal attempted to bring in machine production, taking the company into Modernism. He also had a bigger store built at 196 Tottenham Court Road. This included a new exhibition area, the Mansard Gallery, which continued to showcase Heals designs into and beyond the Art Deco period – and into today.
You can find Heals of London antique cabinets, dining tables and bedroom furniture in Lancashire antique shops. A selling exhibition at the Mansard gallery took place in April 2010 – with one antique cabinet priced at almost £20,000.
Henry William Batley
Henry W Batley (1846 – c. 1912) was an important figure in the English Aesthetic Movement. Renowned for his etchings and engravings, he was also a gifted Aesthetic furniture designer. His intricately carved antique cabinets and upholstered Victorian dining chairs can be found in Lancashire, often in antique dealers specialising in Collinson & Lock or Shoolbred & Co. furniture.
Henry Batley was trained by acclaimed furniture designer Bruce Talbert, quickly finding work as a designer for Collinson & Lock. The Victorian dining chairs, day beds and armchairs he designed are acclaimed for their fine detailed carving, often incorporating stylised floral carvings, and twist-fluting on the arm supports.
Exhibition pianos and antique cabinets
By 1878 Batley was also designing for Shoolbred & Co. He designed the interiors for their Terracotta House, commissioned by Doulton, at the Paris Exhibition – for which he was awarded the cross of the Legion d’Honneur. His elaborate interiors were also showcased in the publication “Decoration”, in 1884. One of Batley’s most outstanding designs for Shoolbred & Co is an intricately carved satinwood piano, which is on display at the V & A museum.
Batley produced designs for manufacturers familiar to people in Lancashire, including an antique desk for Henry Ogden & Son of Manchester. He also published “Series of Studies for Domestic Furniture Decoration Etc” in 1883, which clearly shows the influence of Talbert and Godwin on his antique cabinets and armchairs. As well as his etchings and writings, he designed textiles and wallpapers; Arthur Silver was apprenticed to him in 1873.
Batley and the Arts & Crafts furniture designers
Batley has been compared to the Arts & Crafts furniture designers. However, his aim was to form close working partnerships between designers and commercial manufacturers – the opposite of Morris and his contemporaries. To this end, Batley founded the Guild of Decorators Syndicate in 1908.
Visitors from Lancashire can see Batley’s ornate antique cabinets, decorative Victorian dining chairs – plus his famously intricate piano – at a V & A exhibition in 2011. Showcasing the extraordinary creativity of the British Aesthetic designers, it includes artworks, furniture and textile designs by Batley and many others of the Aesthetic Movement.
John Pollard Seddon (1827 – 1906) was a renowned English architect and designer who produced a prodigious number of architectural designs for buildings in Wales and London – 2000 of which are catalogued in the V & A Museum. He was also a gifted Arts & Crafts Furniture designer.
Seddon was born in London, into a family of renowned cabinetmakers and artists – his father built many of the antique dining chairs , bookcases, antique desks and wardrobes of Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace. He was also the brother of Thomas Seddon (1821 – 1856), who started as a cabinetmaker before becoming a noted pre-Raphaelite artist. Richard wrote his brother’s memoirs following his untimely death, and forged firm friendships with Pre-Raphaelites Ford Madox Brown and D. G. Rossetti.
In 1847 Richard began an apprenticeship with the architect T. L. Donaldson, establishing his own practice in 1852. His first commission was a hotel in Mid Glamorgan. Here, he formed a partnership with architect John Prichard, who had worked for Pugin. For the next 10 years they were ecclesiastical architects in Llandaff, building and Restoring churches and other religious buildings. They also designed the War and Foreign Offices in Whitehall, for which they won an award.
Exhibition grade antique cabinets
Preston visitors to the Mediaeval Court at the London Exhibition in 1862 would have seen magnificent examples of Neo-Gothic Arts & Crafts Furniture, featuring work by the new company of Morris & Co. Many of the pieces were by Seddon, who had joined the Medieval Society in 1857. Although the Victorian dining chairs and sofas were heavily criticised, several of them found their way into early Morris commissions.
Victorian dining chairs in Lancashire
J.P Seddon became a prolific designer. As well as ceramics, stained glass and metalwork he designed Arts & Crafts furniture for Lancashire company Gillows, as well as his family’s firm. He also worked with E. W. Godwin and architect R.P Spiers, and was a tutor to C.F.A. Voysey.
Arts & Crafts Furniture enthusiasts in Preston can enjoy J P Seddon’s work by staying at The Grove hotel near Narberth, Wales. The antique bookcases, four poster beds and interiors of this property are extensively Seddon’s work.
James Shoolbred & Co
The name of James Shoolbred & Co is highly respected among admirers of Aesthetic Movement furniture in Preston and Cumbria. Their antique desks, Victorian dining chairs and antique marquetry furniture were produced for wealthy households up to 1931. A particularly fine example of James Shoolbred antique marquetry furniture – an ornate piano by designer Henry Batley – is on display at the V & A museum, London.
Established in the 1820s, James Shoolbred’s Tottenham Court Road company began life as a drapers. It began supplying textiles to the furniture trade, and expanded into the stores either side, branching into interior design. By the 1870s, the company was designing and manufacturing its own furniture.
antique chests and Victorian dining chairs – spreading the word
A major factor of James Shoolbred’s success was their detailed catalogues, which were published from around 1873. Configured to showcase the company’s designs beyond the confines of London, they made Shoolbred an overnight success. Today, dealers in Cumbria selling Victorian dining chairs and other Shoolbred staples find these catalogues invaluable in identifying, dating and valuing the pieces.
In the 1880s the firm moved to larger premises. Imaginatively laid out, with detailed room schemes showing off the company’s latest furniture and textile designs, it became an unmitigated success.
Cataloguing the history of antique dining tables in Cumbria
Although James Shoolbred & Co specialised in furniture of the Aesthetic Movement they encompassed all the fashionable trends of the time, from the motifs and patterns of Japanese design in their antique marquetry furniture, to Art Nouveau and gothic influences in their antique desks and Victorian dining chairs.
Many of the Edwardian and Victorian dining chairs and antique cabinets in Preston showrooms are “in the style of” James Shoolbred & Co. Their catalogues were so detailed they acted as virtual pattern books, with furniture makers across the world copying their designs to prove they were abreast of London fashion. Today, these catalogues are a valuable research tool for antiques historians in Preston, who can see how antique desks, for example, adapted to various Revival movements as they appeared.
Lamb of Manchester
The antique tables and chairs of Lamb of Manchester are well documented. An important name in the Aesthetic Movement, they produced furniture exclusively for the wealthy industrial families of the north, with a large showroom in the city centre. Their furniture regularly turns up in Preston; the antique desks, Victorian dining chairs , antique cabinets and other items always being of exquisite quality.
Lamb of Manchester was founded by James Lamb (1816 – 1903), one of the leading cabinetmakers in Manchester. Acclaimed for his dedication to high quality construction and artistic design, he used only the finest quality materials and workmanship. His designers included Alfred Waterhouse, Bruce Talbot and Charles Bevan, who said he was the most aesthetically advanced furniture craftsman outside London at the time. Lamb of Manchester laid the foundations for the Arts & Crafts Furniture that was to follow.
Upholstered Victorian dining chairs
Lamb of Manchester is renowned for richly upholstered, finely carved Victorian dining chairs, armchairs and sofas, and the company was founded as a cabinet-making and upholstery workshop.
Later, Lamb moved to a larger factory site in Castlefield, and began exhibiting his company’s work.
Exhibition grade antique cabinets
At the London Exhibition of 1862 Lamb’s displayed work by W.J. Estall and Hugues Protat, who designed furniture in an elaborately French style. In the late 1860s the company changed focus, making inlaid gothic pieces to Charles Bevan designs. They also made furniture for the Manchester Assize Courts, to Waterhouse designs which were shown at the Paris Exhibition in 1867 and 1878. Later, they exhibited “Quaint” furniture at the 1887 Manchester Jubilee Exhibition.
Lamb of Manchester was one of the top three manufacturers of Gothic Revival, Aesthetic & Anglo-Japanese furniture in the 19th century. By 1899, their style was outdated, superseded by the simpler Arts & Crafts Furniture of Lancashire, and the company was absorbed into Goodhall, Lamb & Heighway. However, their antique dining tables continue to inspire – one design having copies in the V& A, Manchester City Art Gallery and the Fine Art Society.
Leonard Wyburd (1865 – 1958) was one of Britain’s foremost Arts & Crafts furniture designers, integral in developing Liberty’s Furnishing and Decoration studio. His early antique bookcases, cabinets and chairs were Moorish in design, but by the 1890s he had developed an avant-garde style which was to revolutionise Europe. Leonard Wyburd’s antique chests, cabinets and Victorian dining chairs are beautiful, enduring and highly sought after at auction.
The son of painter Francis John Wyburd, Leonard began working for Liberty in 1883, when the Aesthetic style was at its zenith. He established a furniture and design studio, initially importing Oriental and Middle Eastern furniture – both highly popular at the time. The artistry of Arabic furniture inspired him to develop his own Moorish-style designs, which he created for smoking rooms, drawing rooms and Liberty’s own Arab-inspired tearooms. Wyburd’s designs became highly fashionable, establishing Liberty as a leading Arts & Crafts furniture manufacturer.
Leonard Wyburd’s furniture was light and elegant, often inlaid with Mushrebiyeh-style latticework inspired by Egypt. His rush-seated chairs, Arabic cabinets, camphor tables, sandalwood chests and stained glass windows were incorporated into elaborate Anglo-Arabic room sets, which were portrayed in watercolours – some of which Wyburd did himself. Writers of the period noted how the furniture sought to utilise the treasures of the East for everyday life in a way that was affordable to the middle-class as well as the wealthy.
In the late 1890s, Wyburd had developed a new style to run alongside his Moorish designs. This novel, avant-garde approach blended European Art Nouveau, English Arts and Crafts and mediaeval concepts, creating what became known as “Le Stile Liberty” in Paris (where Liberty had by now opened a showroom). Solidly constructed from oak, and referencing English vernacular forms, Wyburd’s nouveau pieces had a profound effect on French, German, Austrian and English furniture design. He opened his own premises in 1905.
Embellished with carvings and copper panels, adorned with ironwork, painted with curious mottos; Wyburd’s antique cabinets and bookcases epitomise all that is best about Liberty design.
Liberty of London
Founded in 1875, the name of Liberty is synonymous with Art Nouveau ornaments and Arts & Crafts Furniture. Employing designers of the calibre of William Morris, Archibald Knox and Leonard Wyburd, Liberty created iconic originals which drew their inspiration from all four corners of the globe.
Arthur Lasenby Liberty , the founder of Liberty of London , was a man of vision with a thirst for foreign culture. Born in Chesham, Buckinghamshire in 1843, he began working at Farmer and Rogers of Regent Street, in 1862 – the year of the Great London Exposition. In 1874 he decided to open his own store, with the intention of revolutionising home design and fashion.
From Chinese antique cabinets to the Art Nouveau movement
With the aid of a family loan, Arthur Liberty took out a small lease, opening Liberty & Co in Regent Street, in 1875. Initially it was an Oriental warehouse, selling imported fabrics and ornaments from Japan and the Middle East. This included ‘Anglo-Oriental’ bamboo furniture , some of it made by local craftsmen. The style proved very popular, and by 1883 Liberty had enlarged his premises and opened a Furnishing and Decoration studio under the direction of Leonard Wyburd.
This is where the first original Liberty designs were created, many of them inspired by foreign shores. At this time, there was a craze for Egyptology, and Liberty capitalised on this with its unique “Thebes” stool. Based on an ancient Egyptian design, it quickly became a best seller. On the strength of this, Liberty opened an “Eastern Bazaar” in his store at 142-144 Regent Street. Opened in 1885, it quickly became a fashionable shopping emporium for Pre-Raphaelite artisans.
By the 1890s, Arthur Liberty had built strong working relationships with a number of English Arts & Crafts Furniture designers, as well as Art Nouveau craftsmen like Archibald Knox, whose iconic Cymric and Tudric designs became symbolic of the Art Nouveau movement. Other Art Nouveau designers working for Liberty included C.F.A. Voysey, Walter Crane, L.F.Day and the Silver Studio, which together made Art Nouveau a mainstream art form.
Antique dining tables and softly draped curtains – the Liberty look
Liberty worked closely with many different craftsmen and wholesalers to develop the eclectic “Liberty look.” William Birch, for example, supplied the rush-seated Victorian dining chairs popular in Cumbrian antique shops today. J.S Henry supplied furniture designed by George Walton, whose antique dining chairs and settles have become museum pieces – the V & A has George Walton Liberty furniture on display.
Liberty also used German designers, such as Richard Riemerschmid, prized for his Modernistic antique dining chairs. Pewterware was introduced around 1898, importing from German designer J.P.Kayser before Archibald Knox began designing the in-house Liberty collections. Other metalware craftsmen included Oliver Baker and John Pearson, while new textile, carpet and costume ranges were developed by designers like E.W. Godwin, Thomas Wardle, Voysey and Morton & Co.
Sir Arthur Lazenby Liberty died in 1917, though the Liberty name lives on. Today, collectors from Cornwall to Cumbria hunt down the rustic Victorian dining chairs and antique marquetry furniture which once graced the Liberty Gift And Furniture catalogues.
M.H. Baille Scott
Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott (1865-1945) was an Arts and Crafts designer and prolific architect. He designed and furnished almost 300 dwellings in his lifetime, one of the most important of which is at Blackwell, Cumbria. The Tudor-style antique dining chairs and simple Arts & Crafts furniture show perfectly his transition from Victorian to Modern design.
M.H. Baille Scott was born in Ramsgate, Kent. The son of a sheep farmer, he studied at agricultural college before deciding to follow a career in architecture. Having trained in Bath, he moved to the Isle of Man following his marriage in 1889. His 12 years here were the most important in terms of his architectural development. He joined the Arts and Crafts movement, being influenced by Morris, Mackintosh and John Ruskin. However, the antique dining tables , chairs and other furniture produced by Baillie Scott show a distinct style of his own.
Initially, Baillie Scott worked as a civil engineer. He spent time at Isle of Man School of Art, becoming friends with artist and designer Archibald Knox, who worked on some of his interiors. Scott built and furnished a number of properties on the island, including his own home in Douglas. He returned to England in 1900, working there until 1939.
Baillie Scott believed in harmony and integration of design. He became known for his simple open-plan style of architecture and precise level of craftsmanship, which would see him spending many hours planning his buildings and interiors. However, this didn’t happen immediately. His early architecture and interiors were ornate and mediaeval. Later, however, he developed a simpler style in which the Arts and Crafts philosophy of precise craftsmanship and honesty to function were key.
Nowhere is this transition seen better than at Blackwell, Cumbria. The antique dining tables, chairs and carved oak panelling of his early rooms are typical of the Victorian Gothic period which influenced his style in 1897. However, rooms designed in 1899 – 1900 are open plan and modern in style, with Arts & Crafts furniture inspired by Morris and Ruskin, who lived in Cumbria.
Maple & Co
With a warehouse that was one of the “sites of London”, Maple & Co was once the largest furniture retailer and manufacturer in the world, attracting visitors from near and far. The company was most prolific in the late Victorian and Edwardian era, specialising in fine quality Arts & Crafts Furniture, designed and produced in their own workshops. However, they continued producing fine quality furniture up until the 1980s.
Maple & Co was established by John Maple, a shopkeeper from Horley, Surrey, who later opened a furniture shop in Tottenham Court Road. However it was his son, John Blundell Maple , who made Maples & Co a success. With exceptional business skills, John B. Maple took over the company while still a young man. By the 1880s they were the largest furniture store in the world, exported their fine furniture to every continent.
antique desks with a racing chance
Maples manufactured their luxury furniture entirely in-house, at a huge modern complex. A timber importer and furniture exporter, they landed prestigious contracts furnishing fine houses, hotels, embassies and palaces in Europe; among them Tsar Nicholas’s Winter Palace and the Hofburg Imperial Palace in Vienna . With his own empire established, John Blundell Maple achieved further fame in politics and horseracing – some lines, such as the Atherstoke antique cabinet, having racing connections in the titles.
Never compromising on quality, Maples produced a huge catalogue of fine furniture, covering every avenue of interior design. A Maples & Co sale today would cover everything from Chippendale Revival antique dining chairs , to Aesthetic style carved oak dressers, to Art Nouveau tulip carved antique dining tables – all from the same catalogue.
antique cabinets that never age
The exclusivity and high quality of craftsmanship of Maples’ antique cabinets, dining suites and bedroom furniture made them highly popular with Britain’s social elite. Today, they appeal to anyone who appreciates fine craftsmanship.
In 1905, Maples advertised a pedestal desk as a “writing table fitted for the typewriter”. Today, office users in Preston will find antique desks with the Maples emblem described as computer desks. The true quality of Maples Arts & Crafts Furniture, for Preston buyers, is in its timelessness.
Marsh, Jones & Cribb
The renowned Arts & Crafts furniture manufacturers Marsh, Jones & Cribb were founded around 1850, originally as the firm “Marsh & Jones: Medieval Cabinet Makers” of Leeds. They tended towards the Gothic Revival style of cabinetmaking, and have been compared to the famous Gillows, of Lancashire. Their antique dining tables , Victorian dining chairs and antique desks, by the three prestigious designers Bevan, Talbert and Lethaby, and are highly sought after by collectors in Lancashire and Cumbria.
Antique marquetry furniture , with Bevan and Salt
Marsh and Jones purchased their Leeds company when it was already a successful enterprise . In the 1860s they decided to expand by opening a new showroom in Cavendish Square, London. At this time, the cabinetmaker Henry Humphries Cribb had a successful business in fashionable Soho. He sent his son to serve his apprenticeship with Marsh and Jones and, in due course, Cribb the Younger was offered a partnership. Thus the new company of Marsh, Jones & Cribb was founded, around 1867.
While in the guise of Marsh & Jones, the company met Charles Bevan, a new designer in the Gothic Reform style, whose workshop was close to their showrooms. In 1865 he licenced them to manufacture his ‘New Registered Reclining Chair’, an early but successful enterprise. This led to Marsh, Jones & Cribb, with Bevan, winning a large furniture commission for the son of Sir Titus Salt, the Yorkshire mill owner and builder of Saltaire.
antique cabinets and the Lancashire connection
With Bevan and B.J. Talbert, the company began making more commercial furniture, exhibiting at the Paris Exposition in 1878. In the late 1880s, they appointed W.R. Lethaby as their senior designer, his Arts and Crafts furniture being exhibited in 1890. Their style by now was less Gothic, and more elegant and Georgian in style, aided by the arrival of Gillows’ cabinetmakers A. I. Swift and E. J. Thompson , in 1897. However, the demand for traditional Arts & Crafts Furniture declined after WWI, the firm being taken over by C.P. Sixsmith in1923.
Marsh, Jones & Cribb furniture is popular in Cumbria and Lancashire, their antique desks, Victorian dining chairs and antique cabinets often selling for thousands of pounds at auctions.
Romney Green was an English Arts & Crafts furniture designer; a contemporary of the Cotswold School, which flourished in the early 20th century and led to the Modernist movement. Green’s antique dining tables , chairs and cabinets are prized for their craftsmanship and elegant, simple lines. They can be found in many antique dealers specialising in Arts & Crafts furniture, adding the same touch of class to modern homes as they did those of the 1920s.
Romney Green was at the hub of the 20th century Arts and Crafts movement, helping to bring the Cotswold style to a wider audience. He began his furniture-making career in Haslemere, Surrey, in 1904, after visiting the workshops of Ernest Gimson at Sapperton and being inspired to create original designs in the same idiom.
He later moved to Christchurch, Hampshire, where he was joined by three other influential young designers – Eric Sharpe, Stanley W Davies and Robin Nance. Under his tutorship they went on to have successful careers of their own. Nance settled in St Ives, Cornwall, while Eric Sharpe opened a workshop in nearby Martyr Worthy. Stanley Davies was responsible for taking the Cotswolds movement to Cumbria.
Numerous links were forged between Green, Gimson and the Barnsley Brothers, which helped promote his work. Sidney Barnsley’s son, Edward Barnsley, set up a workshop in Froxfield, Hampshire, working with Oliver Morel, who had been greatly influenced by Romney Green, Eric Sharpe and Stanley Davies. In the 1960s Morel established the Eric Sharpe Resource Centre, which showcased the work of many of modern Arts & Crafts Furniture designers, notably Romney Green and his associates.
Green died in 1945, having led a varied and adventurous life. In an anthology of his poems he describes himself as:
“Craftsman-woodworker, boat-builder and sailor, mathematician, poet, chess-player, social reformer, rebel, friend and lover!”
Today, his antique cabinets, tables and dining chairs are found in antique dealers and museums across the British Isles. A particularly fine collection of his work is on display at the Red House Museum, Christchurch.
Shapland & Petter of Barnstaple
Shapland & Petter was a Devonshire company whose Arts & Crafts furniture is at last receiving the recognition it deserves. Critics have argued that their furniture was machine manufactured, and thus does not qualify for the title of Arts & Crafts. However, their machines were used in combination with exquisite hand-tooled skills, and no-one who has seen one of Shapland & Petter’s finely carved Victorian dining chairs can doubt the craftsmanship of their work.
The Shapland and Petter factory was established by cabinetmaker Henry Shapland (1823 – 1909), following a trip to America in 1848. While there, he saw an ingenious new machine which he realised could be used for cabinetmaking. Upon his return to Barnstaple, he reproduced the machine from notes he’d made and set up business in a mill. He later met Henry Petter, an accountant, and together they achieved rapid success. In 1888 the mill burned down. Undeterred, they moved to larger premises. The same factory now produces high-quality joinery.
Hand-tooled or machine-made? Antique cabinets that were both
Furniture by Shapland and Petter, such as their antique dining chairs , is highly collectable by Arts & Crafts furniture enthusiasts, despite breaking the “rules” of the movement. Looking at the detailed carving on a Shapland and Petter antique chest today, it is hard to imagine it being produced in what was, for its time, one of the most cutting-edge factories in Britain.
The new factory was arranged in blocks, with a production line of up to 350 employees, which ran from the saw mills to the finishing sheds. However, keen as they were to adopt labour-saving devices, the men also saw the need for traditional craftsmanship. They imported American machine tools that were backed by an army of skilled cabinetmakers, carvers, designers and polishers.
From Victorian dining chairs to antique bookcases, Shapland and Petter furniture is defined its detailed carving. Those employed for this task underwent a 7-year apprenticeship, using up to 100 tools for the most elaborate designs. The factory was soon producing furniture and interiors to order, for banks, hotels, private homes and even Pullman railway carriages. Notable commissions included the London Guildhall, Edgar Wallace ‘s home, and the mansion house at Tapeley Park.
From Antique marquetry furniture to the Art Nouveau period
Shapland & Petter antiques range from simple rustic Arts & Crafts furniture to intricate antique marquetry furniture, embellished with the fluid organic designs of the Art Nouveau movement. Their antique cabinets often made use of finely detailed lead glass panels and delicate fruitwood inlays; however, many of these intricately crafted pieces were mass-produced standards.
There were hundreds of these available in their pattern book, inspired by the leading Arts & Crafts furniture designers but with their own unique stamp of individuality. Collectors of Glasgow School Arts & Crafts furniture will recognise familiar motifs like the Glasgow Rose and Baillie Scott’s “twin doves,” while those familiar with C. R. Ashbee antique marquetry furniture will also show many similarities.
Shapland and Petter both died in 1909. However, their factory continued to produce fine furniture for a number of years, often for public commissions. Today, Cumbrian enthusiasts can see Shapland and Petter’s stunning Art Nouveau and antique marquetry furniture on display across the British Isles.
Sidney Barnsley (1865 – 1926) was, like his brother Ernest, an architect and furniture designer who helped found the Cotswold Arts and Crafts movement. Unlike his contemporaries, who employed craftsmen to execute their designs, Barnsley worked completely alone, making his Arts & Crafts furniture both rare and unique.
Sidney Barnsley was born in Birmingham, studying at the Royal Academy Architectural Department before becoming apprenticed to the revivalist architect Norman Shaw. He was encouraged to study Byzantine design in Greece, and upon returning to England undertook a number of commissions inspired by this experience. His only church, the Wisdom of God in Lower Kingswood, Surrey, is a total contrast to the Gothic Revival style of the period, superbly decorated with dressed marble columns and Art Nouveau mosaics.
In the 1890s Sidney Barnsley met the architect and designer Ernest Gimson, and decided to pursue a career in Arts and Crafts. After founding the short-lived furniture company of Kenton and Co, the group left London for the Cotswolds, with the idea of forming a Utopian craft community creating handmade furniture in the rural tradition. They settled upon Pinbury Park, developing the ‘Sapperton’ style of Arts & Crafts furniture which expressed itself through exposed joints and pins, decorative stringing, hardwood inlays and delicate chamfering.
Barnsley’s Byzantine work gave him a deep understanding of classical and vernacular design, developing a style that was more robust and less elaborate than his Cotswold contemporaries. His designs were led by the grain and colours of the wood, which included elm, ebony and fruitwood. Early designs were rustic and simple, but as time progressed he began doing commissions from wealthier clients. His antique marquetry furniture reflects this, though his gouged patterns, gesso work and ebony inlays always show restraint.
Buyers will have to search hard to find an original Barnsley antique desk or table. However, in his later life Barnsley again became involved in architecture, and helped rescue the mediaeval Owlpen Manor from dereliction. The manor now houses a fine collection of Barnsley’s Arts and Crafts furniture , including an early Shaker-style dresser and an ebony-inlaid antique cabinet.
Stanley Webb Davies
Stanley Webb Davies (1894–1978) was one of the leading designers in the Cotswold School style, which helped to take the traditional handmade elements of Arts & Crafts furniture into the twentieth century. Like his associate, Robert “Mouse Man” Thompson, Davies had a trademark signature: a rectangular monogram containing his initials, the date of manufacture and initials of the craftsman who made the piece.
Stanley Davies was born in Darwen, Lancashire, to a Quaker mill-owning family. Having graduated from Oxford, he initially went into the family mill business, but decided to further his talent for woodworking with an apprenticeship under the acclaimed Cotswold School designer Romney Green.
In 1923, Davies started his own Arts & Crafts furniture company in Cumbria, building a house and workshop near Windermere, which he called “Gatesbield”, meaning a shelter for small animals. He married Emily Thomas, herself a skilled woodcarver, in the same year. Emily was a nature lover, and their house was, and still is, full of charming carvings of wildlife, country scenes and mottos crafted by her and her husband. Upon Davies’ death, the house was bequeathed to a Quaker housing association, and today offers sheltered accommodation for the elderly, the beautiful woodwork carefully preserved.
The majority of Davies’ antique chests, bookcases and other furniture was made at his Gatesbield workshop. Like William Morris and other Arts and Crafts artisans, he abhorred mechanisation, instead making each piece of furniture by hand. His aim was to produce simple, elegant functional furniture which reflected the beauty of the wood and the skill of the craftsman. In common with others of the Cotswold School, his antique chests and cabinets show a range of chamfering and jointing techniques, with exposed dovetails, dowels, wedged or double-wedged tenons and inset ebony details.
Trademarks of Davies antique dining tables and sideboards include alternating thumb nail chisels and rounded tops. An oak antique dining table , dated 1929, is a stunning example of his work. Made with extending leaves, it features a rectangular top with inset panels, further panelling on the leaves, an X-framed cross stretcher and detailed chamfered legs. The antique dining chairs which match it feature elegant tapering legs with H-stretchers and revealed tenons, interlaced leather seats, shaped upright backs with chamfered top rails and simple chip carving details. The ensemble was originally in a house not far from Davies’ Windermere workshop, and many of his antique dining chairs and tables are still doing service in private households in that area today.
Stanley Davies’ antique chests, cabinets and dining suites were made between 1923 and the 1960s, but adhered to the same principles of handmade craftsmanship and honesty of design as those of William Morris and the other Arts and Crafts pioneers. He employed a number of assistants who later opened shops of their own, the honesty and natural simplicity of the Cotswold School paving the way for the Modernist movement that was to follow.
The ideals of high craftsmanship and beauty with functionality were largely lost when the Cotswold period of Arts and Crafts furniture design came to an end. However, a number of Davies’ antique cabinets, chairs, chests and other pieces can be seen at the Abbott Hall Gallery and Blackwell House Arts and Crafts museum, both in Cumbria.
William Arthur Smith Benson (1854 – 1924) was a central figure in the Arts & Crafts movement. He is best known for his prolific metalwork and lighting designs, many of which he created for Morris and Co. Benson also designed antique marquetry furniture , being a director of the Morris furniture department from 1896.
W.A.S. Benson was born in Hampshire, to a wealthy family of Quakers. Expected to follow his barrister father to the Bar, he was more greatly influenced by his uncle, who was an engineer and amateur scientist. Having graduated in Classics and Philosophy from Oxford, Benson decided to combine his true interests of art and engineering with a career in architecture. He was apprenticed to the London architect Basil Champney until 1880, but changed tack after meeting the pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones. Through him, Benson met William Morris, for whom he worked, designing furniture and metalwork. A feature of Benson’s antique marquetry furniture designs are his exquisite inlays of tulip, ebony and rosewood.
With encouragement from Morris, Benson set up his own metal workshop. By 1887 he had a showroom in Bond Street, and was an active member of the Art Workers’ Guild. He played a role in the founding of the Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society – the start of the Arts and Crafts movement – in the same year. By 1896 he was running the Morris furniture department. Despite being an avid supporter of machined goods (the exact opposite of Morris) he still adhered to the Arts and Crafts principals.
A trademark of Benson’s lighting designs was their ingenious simplicity, with wires, joins and mechanisms clearly on show. His marriage to the socialite Venetia Hunt gave him a unique insight into the needs of the mercantile Victorian elite, and by 1900 his catalogues of ‘useful and artistic gifts’ were proving highly popular. Attractive and functional, his copper and brass kettles, jugs and table lamps can be found on the shelves of antique cabinets today, while his antique marquetry furniture is eternally popular.
William Birch was an Arts and Crafts furniture designer who specialised in chair making. His High Wycombe furniture factories were a major supplier of furniture for Liberty and Co in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The rush-seated antique dining chairs he made in the 1890s are still prized for their comfort today.
Little is known about William Birch’s life before he established his furniture business at High Wycombe, around the 1890s. He was inspired by the Arts & Crafts furniture of the period, but realised it was out of reach to anyone but the most wealthy. Although the principles of “honest” hand-crafted construction and a return to country values were sound, the idea of cottage industry communes churning out non-mechanised traditionally crafted furniture for the masses was not.
However, people like Birch and Liberty saw the value in emulating the Arts and Crafts styles of Morris and his Cotswold School contemporaries, but in a part-mechanised fashion. The result was high-quality furniture that utilised all the Arts and Crafts concepts, such as quarter-sawn hardwoods, exposed joints and vernacular craftsmanship, at affordable prices.
At this time Wycombe was the centre of the church chair-making industry and, incensed by Randolph Churchill’s comments of Wycombe chairs being cheap and nasty, Birch set out to change that image. Around 1895, his seats came to the attention of Liberty, who commissioned him to make them for their London store. Liberty’s popular rush-seated antique dining chairs were mainly William Birch designs, and enabled him to move to new, larger premises in 1901.
There he was joined by well-known designers like George Whitehead and E.G. Punnett. Punnett’s slightly avant-garde, ecclesiastical style fitted in well with those of Liberty’s other designers like Leonard Wyburd and Archie Knox; his antique cabinets and chairs utilising flourishes of inlaid ebony and pewter, while still adhering to Birch’s vernacular design principles, such as rush seating.
Birch’s factory was eventually taken over by E. Gomme, himself an Arts & Crafts furniture designer. True to their original concept, Birch’s antique dining chairs, cabinets and tables are among the more affordable of Arts & Crafts antiques today.
William Burgess (William Burges)
William Burges (1827 – 1881) was a Gothic Revival architect and master of the pre-Raphaelite painted furniture movement, which flourished between 1855 and 1862. His mediaeval antique dining tables and elaborately painted antique bookcases are a gothic fantasy, totally removed from the industrialisation of the time.
Burges was the son of a civil engineer and trained as an architect. Initially he worked for Matthew Digby Wyatt in 1851 assisting him with the designs for the Medieval Court at the Great Exhibition. This, together with the designs he brought back from his travels in the Middle East and the Orient, were to have a profound effect on his work.
Antique dining tables and Welsh fairytales
In 1856, Burges had his own architectural practice, his first major commission being St Finbarre’s cathedral in Cork. A number of other commissions followed, culminating in a commission from the Marquess of Bute to redesign Cardiff Castle and reconstruct the ruins of Castle Coch.
With an almost unlimited budget, Burges was free to indulge his wildest mediaeval fantasies, the magnificently over-the-top Arabic Room and Smoking Rooms of Cardiff Castle are masterpieces of High Gothic design. Lancashire visitors can view his flamboyant Victorian dining tables and opulent antique cabinets in their original settings. Another of his masterpieces was Knightshayes Court. All three are open to the public.
Burges’ final work was the design of his own home, The Tower House. The painted antique bookcases and cabinets he designed here were his finest yet. Many ended up in museums, but one – the Zodiac Settle – went on sale in August 2010 for £800,000.
Painted antique bookcases and the Arts & Crafts Furniture designers
Between 1852 and 1863, Burges exhibited a number of pieces, at a time when William Morris was also producing painted furniture. Burges’ elaborately beautiful antique cabinets and bookcases – including the Yatman Cabinet and Great Bookcase – now reside in the V & A museum alongside the Arts & Crafts Furniture masters.
Interestingly, in 1862 one of Burges’ antique bookcases was commissioned for Warington Taylor, who worked for Morris. A number of pre-Raphaelite artists associated with the Arts & Crafts movement, for example Rossetti, painted designs on Burges’ antique cabinets, bookcases and settles.
Founder of the English Arts and Crafts movement, William Morris was one of the most influential figures of Victorian art and design. A pre-Raphaelite artist, writer and textile designer, his name is synonymous with the beautiful Arts and Crafts furniture , textiles and artworks which flourish in England today.
Born in Walthamstow, Essex, in 1834, William Morris had a privileged upbringing, being educated at Marlborough School before attending Oxford University. Originally intending to study theology, he migrated to the arts after becoming drawn to socialism. Wanting to embed socialist ideologies into his work, he abandoned painting for architecture and design, associating with artists of the pre-Raphaelite movement. This had a profound influence on his artistic designs.
In 1861 Morris founded Britain’s first design company, which became Morris and Co. Together with his pre-Raphaelite associates he transformed the staid world of Victorian design, introducing new concepts in style and colour. Inspired by Mediaeval art, he eschewed the machine-made regularity of Victorian mass-production; instead each piece was handcrafted to reflect the individuality of the craftsman.
The company produced Arts and Crafts furniture, textiles, tiles, stained glass and wallpaper, embellished with organic forms such as vines, fruit trees, birds and Celtic animals. Each member of the company worked in a specific area of expertise; for example furniture such as Victorian antique dining chairs and cabinets was designed by Philip Webb, who also made tiles and metal ware. Jane Burden, the beautiful pre-Raphaelite model who became Morris’ wife, was taught to fashion embroideries by her husband.
In later years, the company opened new premises at Merton Abbey Mills, where their famous tapestries were woven. A prolific writer, Morris also founded the Kelmscott Press, which produced traditionally crafted, beautifully illuminated versions of classic works.
William Morris died in 1896. A staunch socialist to the last, it seems strange that his beautifully crafted works were too costly for the common man. However, he had an enormous impact on Victorian design in general. Today, arts and crafts pieces such as antique marquetry furniture are accessible to all.
Wylie & Lochhead
Wylie & Lochhead was a Scottish cabinetmaking firm who became famous for their high level of craftsmanship in their furniture, which followed the Glasgow School style of design. Admirers of Wylie & Lochhead Arts& Crafts furniture in Preston will find their antique cabinets, antique dining chairs and other furniture in high quality antique shops and showrooms. The designs are usually attributed to E.A Taylor – sometimes wrongly, as John Ednie designed for them too, though his work was often attributed to Taylor.
Wylie & Lochhead was formed by young cabinetmakers Robert Wylie and William Lochhead in 1829. They became highly successful, with a string of workshops, showrooms and warehouses in Glasgow employing over 1700 workers. By the 1900s they were a household name across Scotland, renowned for their artistic designs and high levels of craftsmanship.
Antique dining chairs by the finest craftsmen
With branches established in London and Manchester, the fame of Wylie & Lochhead spread. The popularity of designs by George Walton, and Rennie Mackintosh and his contemporaries at the Glasgow School, had a huge influence on the firm’s own designs. The success of Mackintosh’s famous Cranston tea rooms placed them under great pressure to satisfy demand for the Glasgow Style, but the size of the firm, and its marketing and manufacturing skills, made the style available to a huge market, both in the United Kingdom and abroad.
Wylie & Lochhead employed the best talent in the area, developing close links with the Glasgow colleges and keeping abreast with the latest designs. Their three main designers were E.A Taylor, John Ednie and George Logan. In 1902, their Arts & Crafts Furniture designs were considered of such high quality they were displayed at the Turin International Exhibition alongside those of Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Four.
Wylie & Lochhead often incorporated other designers’ styles into their antique dining chairs and antique cabinets. Preston buyers will see motifs and other design elements borrowed from, among others, Rennie Mackintosh and Baillie Scott – who also designed Arts & Crafts furniture for the company. In 1957, the company was purchased by House of Fraser.
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