A Gorgeous c.1870 Damask Button-Upholstered Armchair from Chevening House, Surrey

Origin: English
Period: Mid/Late Victorian
Provenance: Chevening House, Kent, UK
Date: c.1865-75
Height: 35 inches
Width: 30 inches
Depth: 30 inches (all at extremities)

The horsehair stuffed button-back armchair covered in gold corded rope twist damask with scallop segmented top rail and arms, on ebonised turned legs and castors, originally from Chevening House, Surrey, England and surviving from the mid-Victorian period.

The condition to the upholstery is thoroughly tired and partly faded, though crisper to the rear, the whole in true country house used condition. The ebonised frame and carved legs are in good strong and sturdy order with little movement. All of the guts are present. She could be left as is a decorative relic of English country house furniture but if she is to be recovered the segmented rail must surely be salvaged. The gold damask and black ebonisation do marry well together and we would encourage this colour-way to be preserved if it is to be re-upholstered.

Chevening House has a history dating back around 800 years, traced back to the early thirteenth century when it is first referred to in contemporary documents. After passing through many hands in the Middle Ages it was acquired by John Lennard in 1551 for £420. The Lennards, who became Lords Dacre of the South by marriage in 1604, owned it for eight generations and were responsible for building the present main block of the house. The House was built by the 13th Lord Dacre (died 1630) between 1615 and 1630 to a design once attributed to Inigo Jones.

On the death of the 7th Earl in 1967, the Chevening Estate Act of 1959 (amended in 1987) came into force and the Trustees took over responsibility for the house and the estate which was then in parlous condition. The present occupiers of the house are the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and the Deputy Prime Minster who use it in an official and private capacity, each being the Nominated Person in turn for the duration of their visits. They have both agreed to a request from the Trustees that the house may be used by Government Departments for conferences when circumstances permit. Such use provides the Trust with a modest income and ensures that full use is made of the available facilities. The house is opened a very limited number of times each year to local historical groups, other interest groups and Chevening Primary School.

The chair is sold with the original Sotheby’s catalogue of 1993 when the auction house administered the large sale of Chevening house contents, selling for £580,000 in total. The chair, as lot number 675, sold for £317.59 inclusive of premium (approximately £573 in todays money) and the original buyers invoice is also provided with the chair on sale.

It is clear that this chair has not been meddled with at all since its conception. It’s wonderful shape, quality and provenance make it a very desirable piece of twenty-four carat country house furniture.