Gillows of Lancaster furniture on show

The Chippendale harlequin dining chairs at Holker Hall.
The Chippendale harlequin dining chairs at Holker Hall.

A heritage group wants to attract antique lovers to sights across Cumbria which have furniture made by Gillows of Lancaster on show.

Cumbria’s LivingHeritage wants to lure visitors to the Lake District World Heritage site in Thomas Chippendale’s 300th anniversary year by highlighting its Lake District great houses’ Chippendale furniture, plus Gillows of Lancaster gems.

Chippendale furniture is housed in both the Drawing Room and Dining Room of Holker Hall in Cartmel.

The first piece is a mahogany rectangular table. It has an intricate pierced fretwork ‘gallery’ around the table, as well as a blind-fretwork frieze on quadruple cluster supports, designed in bamboo.

The second is a Chippendale silver table. This has a three-quarter pierced gallery, square chamfered legs and fret-carved angle-brackets joined by shaped X-stretcher supports.

On it sits an open book, housed in a wood and glass display case gifted to Holker by Buckingham Palace following a 1937 visit by Queen Mary. Meanwhile, Holker’s Dining Room boasts a set of Chippendale harlequin dining chairs.

At Levens Hall, Chippendale’s craftsmanship is seen in a stunning pair of giltwood candelabra (or torchères) dating from around 1750. These boast three scrolling candle-arms carved with leaves and with foliate drip pans. The stems are vigorously carved with acanthus leaf scrolls and decorated with trailing flowers and leaves. They rest on double-scrolled cabriole legs, moulded and carved with leaves and shells.

A Gillows sideboard, a beautiful George III mahogany table, and chairs that form part of a set of 20 made specifically for the house can be found at Dalemain, whilst Gillows chairs grace National Trust Sizergh.

Abbot Hall Art Gallery owns two attractive, shelled-back Gillows hall chairs dating back to 1810, plus an undated Gillows’ folio stand. Its sister attraction, the Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry, located just a few yards away, showcases a Pembroke table made in 1820 for Gillows by craftsman, Thomas Wotton.

Cumbria’s Living Heritage’s Chair, Peter Frost-Pennington, says: “We look forward to welcoming Lancaster-based visitors with an interest in furniture to all of our historic houses in Cumbria this year and are sure that the 300th anniversary of Chippendale will spark an interest in the contents of our great homes in general.

“We are blessed with not only having members with Chippendale furniture, but also properties with Gillows furniture - something that auction houses such as Christies also hold in high regard. Anyone visiting the Lake District World Heritage Site should not pass up on the opportunity to see some of these pieces first-hand.”

Visit www.cumbriaslivingheritage.co.uk.