Viewers of Bargain Hunt on Tuesday 23rd April were treated to the sight of an exquisite set of 18th century chairs housed in the stunning Stoneleigh Abbey, Warwickshire.
Tim Wonnacott, the antique expert presenter of the programme, lovingly explained the history and workmanship that had gone into this set of chairs.
The ruins of a Cistercian Abbey were purchased by Sir Thomas Leigh in 1561 and his descendants have lived there up until the 1990s. Walking through the house, Wonnacott showed examples of the family ownership with its crest or family arms engraved in furniture and walls.
“The most important piece of bespoke furniture in the house is this set of chairs. The top rail is carved and decorated with the Leigh arms and covered with exquisite needlework. What is really, really brilliant about this set of chairs is the quality of the frame.”
The chairs were probably made by Moore & Gunley around 1715-25. The arms of the armchairs, which splay outwards, are beautifully carved with bell flower motifs that have been gilded and gessoed and which end in a delicious elegant curlicue. Glorious original needlepoint from the early 18th Century covers both the backs and seats of all the chairs. The chairs are made out of solid walnut.
“You will not find a grander set of 18th century chairs anywhere in the world.”
Antique furniture dealers in Cumbria may not have a set of chairs of such importance in their stock, but they are sure to have some fine antique balloon back dining chairs for you to view.
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