23 May 2019
March 29, 2011 - Filed under: Antique Tables,Victorian Dining Chairs — Richard

Gillows furniture is Lancashire’s equivalent of Chippendale or Hepplewhite. The Lancaster museum of Judges Lodgings has one of the finest collections of Gillows furniture in Lancashire, with Victorian dining chairs , antique desks and other fine pieces displayed in eight adjoining rooms. Many more are held in storage.

Judges Lodgings is Lancaster’s oldest town house. Used during the notorious Lancaster Castle Assizes, the rooms range from the cosy butler’s pantry to the opulent Regency dining room. Both have fine examples of the Victorian dining chairs and antique dining tables for which the Lancashire firm was famous.

The top attraction, though, is the Rawlinson antique bookcase. Lancashire merchant Thomas Hutton Rawlinson (1712-1769) was a Quaker West Indies trading merchant , with a close connection to the slave trade in Lancashire. The antique bookcase was commissioned by his widow Mary for £17. 17s. 0d in 1772. Richly carved and ornamented, it is one of the few Gillows pieces to be made in two sections, made rarer by having full documentation. Thomas Rawlinson (from whom actor Rupert Everett is descended) imported mahogany for Gillows; it may even have been used for this antique bookcase. Lancashire was in danger of seeing this exquisite piece exported abroad in 2008, until Government Culture Minister Margaret Hodge intervened. It was purchased by the Lancashire Museums Service for £260,000, and now resides in the entrance hall.

Furniture by Gillows can be found at high quality antique dealers in towns like Preston. Look for antique dining tables and Victorian dining chairs “contributed to” Gillows. These lack the provenance and rarity of museum pieces, and are on the whole affordable.

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