11387 ROYAL FURNITURE A RARE SOLID AND VENEERED KINGWOOD CENTER TABLE PROBABLY FROM CUMBERLAND LODGE, WINDSOR English. Early Nineteenth Century. Measurements: Height: 28 58″ (72.7 cm); Width: 13 1/8″ (33.3 cm); Depth: 16 7/8″ (42.8 cm).
Of kingwood, thuya, and ebony with gilt brass fittings. The rectangular canted cornered top edged with inlaid ebony and thuya wavy boarder. The solid pieced kingwood baluster stem set with high quality brass fittings and top for adjustment of ratcheted mechanism, so that the table can be used as a reading stand. The whole raised upon an incurved tripartite platform fitted with three original gilt brass casters. Curious construction detail where stem and platform join, however, both are original.
Struck to the underside:
VR separated by a crown. CL, Room 45. 1872.
Old square paper label with red printed numeral ‘5‘.
This center table is exceptional for being almost entirely of highly valued, exquisitely marked kingwood (also known as princes wood), including the solid baluster stem which is necessarily formed of pieced sections glued together then finely turned.
The proper name for king wood is dalbergia cearensis, a small tree native to Brazil which only grows to a maximum diameter of 4-8 inches (10-20 cm). The wood was very uncommon in England during the Regency period, and was more or less exclusively associated with French pieces, particularly from the reign of Louis XV.
The present table is stamped to the underside with the royal cypher of Queen Victoria and a date of 1872, the year a catalog of the Royal Collection was produced, following the first authoritative inventory recorded in 1861.
The table is also stamped CL and Room 45. A compelling possibility for this reference is Cumberland Lodge, a magnificent 17th century estate in Windsor Great Park, nearby to Windsor Castle (figure 1). The lodge entered Royal possession in 1670, when King Charles II made it the residence of the Ranger of the Park, calling it the ‘Great Lodge.’ In 1747, King George’ II’s son Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland was made Ranger and “immediately set about altering his residence to form a grand mansion to rival any in the land,” with the aid of architect Henry Flitcroft. In 1757 the Duke enlarged the house again under Thomas Sandby, nearly doubling it in size.
In 1790 King George III successfully took back the house, now called ‘Cumberland Lodge,’ and a further major refurbishment was begun by the architect James Wyatt that was completed under the direction of the Prince Regent. He resided at the nearby Royal Lodge while work was carried out. The house was fully occupied by George IV’s younger brother, the Duke of Sussex, from 1822-42 and it is therefore possible the table was made for the latter.
The use of such a sumptuous material as kingwood, with its strong French connections, is much in line with George IV’s Francophile leanings in matters of taste. Another unusual aspect of the table is that its design owes little debt to the prevalent fashion of the Regency; instead, its bulbous turned stem is in line with 17th century prototypes. One can therefore label it an antiquarian piece whose design may have been in reference to the 17th century origin of Cumberland Lodge.
As is inevitably the case, the quality of furniture made for George IV and his family is of the highest level. The present table is made using the finest quality Cuban mahogany as a substrate for the top, block and ratcheted square pole, and superb gilt-brass fittings that serve to raise and adjust the angle of the table. This attention to detail gives a pleasing aspect to the table when the top is raised and inclined. It seems probable that Morel & Hughes, Upholsterer in Ordinary to George IV, were the makers of the piece, as they were supplying vast quantities of furniture to Windsor Castle at the same time the present table was made, as well as under the firm’s subsequent incarnation as Morel and Seddon from 1827. The sum of £200,000 billed by Morel and Seddon to the king was unprecedented and blocked by the Treasury, leading to the approval by a special parliamentary committee of a final payment amount of £179,300 18s 9d in 1831.