The Gothic revival oak, pollard oak, parcel gilt and marquetry centre table formed part of Pugin’s first independent commission to design furniture for the royal cabinetmaker Morel & Seddon.
The suite was supplied to George IV at Windsor c.1827. At the time, the 15-year-old Pugin, who received architectural and draftsmanship training from his French father, was also producing designs for goldsmiths Rundell and Bridge.
The table, with its 4ft (1.2m) diameter marquetry top supported by fanned ribs in imitation of a medieval vaulted ceiling, was photographed in the Picture Gallery (now known as the Queen’s Drawing Room) at Windsor in 1903. At the time it had an applied giltwood apron, which was missing when the table was pictured in Jeremy Cooper’s classic text Victorian and Edwardian Furniture and Interiors (1987).
It formed part of a group of 19th century high Victorian and Reformed Gothic furnishings acquired by Donald and Marie Cooper for Congelow House in Yalding, Kent, in the 1970s and ’80s.
They had bought primarily from London dealers such as Jeremy Cooper, The Fine Art Society and, in the case of this table purchased in 1980 for £3500, Christopher Gibbs.
The auctioneers, who spent time piecing the history of the collection together, found a letter from Gibbs to Donald Cooper, dated October 21, 1980, stating that he can broker a deal for the table from 'a chap up in Yorkshire who wants £4000 for it, but would take £3500 cash’. Estimated four decades later at £12,000-18,000, it was one of many pieces among the 66 lot consignment sold to London trade.
Sold at £15,500 (estimate £2000-3000) to another specialist dealer was a pair of 19in (48cm) high gilt bronze andirons modelled as lions triumphant (pictured on front page), c.1840-50 – part of the Pugin commission for John Talbot, 16th Earl of Shrewsbury (1791-1852) at the Staffordshire property that later came to be known as Alton Towers.
Pugin remodelled a series of rooms at Alton: a surviving stone fireplace in the banqueting hall is carved with similar lions and the same family motto Prest d’Accomplir in gothic script. The andirons probably left the estate when the majority of the contents were sold at auction in 1918.