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.