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A pair of George III carved oak and caned 'Gothic' window seats, circa 1800, in the manner of James Wyatt
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69
A pair of George III carved oak and caned 'Gothic' window seats, circa 1800, in the manner of James Wyatt
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Details & Cataloguing

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A pair of George III carved oak and caned 'Gothic' window seats, circa 1800, in the manner of James Wyatt
each armrest painted with the family crest of the Barker-Conyers
each 204.5cm. wide; 6ft. 8½in.
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Provenance

Formerly in the collection at Clare Priory, Suffolk and probably supplied to Lt Colonel John Barker and his wife Caroline Conyers for the North Gallery in circa 1803

Catalogue Note

These superb oak benches, with their cluster-column supports, trefoil and quatrefoil motifs, epitomise the refined Gothic style popularised by the architect James Wyatt (d. 1813) who remodelled Windsor Castle for George, Prince Regent, later King George IV in the Gothic taste.

The painted crest is that of the Barker-Conyers of Clare Priory, Suffolk. The Barkers and their kin were longstanding owners of the Priory and there are numerous other crests in the windows of the oratory bearing the muzzled heads of the Barker family crest. Caroline Conyers and Lt Colonel John Barker moved into the Priory shortly after their marriage in 1803 and it is likely they commissioned the benches and other items of Gothic inspired furniture around this time. Eventually, descendants of the Barker-Conyers enabled the Austin Friars to return to the Priory in 1953, to what had been the order's very first foundation in 1248.

The use of oak as the principle timber was an unusual choice for the period. Typically reserved domestic items, it is however, coupled with the prie-dieu style armrests, perfectly in keeping with the ecclesiastical setting of the Priory. There are other notable oak examples from around this date. A related suite of chairs possibly designed for the Gothic Library at Carlton House and thought to be by Wyatt are also carved in oak in circa 1805, examples of which are in the V&A (W.151-1978). Earlier still are a set of Gothic chairs supplied by Gillows for the Grand Dury Room in the Shire Hall, Lancaster Castle in 1801 (see Susan Stuart, Gillows of Lancaster and London 1730-1840, China, 2008, Vol. 1, p. 205).

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