The Churche's Mansion Cupboard:  An important Elizabeth I carved oak press cupboard, circa 1577 Made for Rychard and Margerye Churche of Churche's Mansion, Nantwich, Cheshire
Lot 123
The Churche's Mansion Cupboard: An important Elizabeth I carved oak press cupboard, circa 1577
Made for Rychard and Margerye Churche of Churche's Mansion, Nantwich, Cheshire
Sold for £35,000 (US$ 57,862) inc. premium
Lot Details
The Churche's Mansion Cupboard: An important Elizabeth I carved oak press cupboard, circa 1577
Made for Rychard and Margerye Churche of Churche's Mansion, Nantwich, Cheshire
Having a beaded and gauge-carved cornice above an arcaded-frieze formed from simplistic incise-carved Ionic pilasters below applied dentil-mouldings, over a fine central carving of the arms of Elizabeth I within a scroll-edged cartouche headed by a crown and the initials ER, flanked to either side by a cupboard door carved respectively with the leopard and dragon of the Royal Arms beneath the inlaid initials RC and MC, with an elaborately carved figural term to each end, a male figure next to the initials of Richard, a female figure next to the initials of Margaret, a pair of panelled cupboard doors below, again centred by a male and then female mask each within a four-petalled flower, spaced by tapering stop-fluted pilasters headed by egg and dart-carved capitals and terminating in lozenge-carved block supports, the sides with an applied arched panel, over a mask-centred panel, restorations, 181cm wide x 65cm deep x 179cm high, (71in wide x 25 1/2in deep x 70in high)


  • Provenance:

    - Made for Rychard Churche (born c. 1540 - 1592) and Margerye or Margaret Churche (nee Wright, d. 1599) of Churche's Mansion, Nantwich, Cheshire and Betton, Shropshire.
    - In 1592, the Churche estates were divided between Rycharde's eldest son William, who inherited the estates at Betton, and Randle, who inherited Churche's Mansion; the cupboard was probably removed to Betton at this point.
    - By descent in the family to Alexander-William Radford-Norcup of Brand Hall, Norton, Wales, not far from Betton and of Churche's Mansion (it was he who sold Churche's Mansion to Dr Myott in 1930).
    - Purchased by Mr Compton of Betton Hall during World War II.
    - Purchased by Dr Myott, owner of Churche's Mansions from 1930, from a sale of the contents of Betton Hall, Betton, Shropshire on 25th September 1952, Lot 141, for £90.
    - Purchased from Richard V. Myott of Buerton Old House, Dr Myott's son, by Dr Chris Douglas in August 1995.


    The cupboard was the subject of an article by Susan Bourne for the Regional Furniture Society Journal, Volume II, in 1988.
    On its return to Churche's Mansion in 1952 it was the subject of a local newspaper article accompanied by a photograph showing Dr & Mrs Myott returning the cupboard to Churche's Mansion in the back of a van.

    Rychard and Margerye Churche:

    Rychard Churche is recorded as having restored the roof of the North Transept of Nantwich Church, and was a prosperous merchant who owned wych-houses, a share in the town's corn mill and who bought estates at Betton in Shropshire. Margerye Wright was a merchant's daughter of similar standing. Her nephew, Edmund, became Lord Mayor of London in 1640. Rychard and Margerye lived at the end of Hospital Street, Nantwich, and were responsible for the building works in the late 1570s which resulted in one of the finest timber-framed houses to survive in Cheshire.

    The Churche's Mansion Cupboard:

    Extant Elizabethan furniture is rare, but Elizabethan furniture with provenance - knowledge of who it was made for, and where it first stood - is exceedingly rare. Such knowledge usually only accompanies pieces made for aristocratic or royal households, like the furniture that remains at Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire or Sizergh Castle in Cumbria.

    This cupboard, which was made for Rychard Churche and his wife Margerye in or around 1577, when they built Churche's Mansion, their home in Nantwich, and almost certainly made to stand in the Mansion's Hall, is an extremely rare example of a piece of provincial furniture surviving with its provenance intact.

    Its attribution to the last three or four years of the 1570s is based upon a number of stylistic features which it shares with Churche's Mansion, which itself bears the inscription on its frontage, 'Rychard Churche and Margerye Church his wife Mai IIII Thomas Clease made this work; anno dni MCCCCCLXXVII in the XVIIII yere of the reane of our noble queene elesabeth'. The male and female masks on the front of the cupboard's lower doors, said to represent Rychard and Margerye, are comparable with those which adorn the Mansion's exterior. The central panel of the upper part of the cupboard is a finely carved rendition of Elizabeth I's Royal Arms, a loyal gesture which echoes their inclusion of her name in the inscription to the house's exterior. Clearly the Churche's were keen to link their name with Elizabeth's as often as they could.

    Most compelling, however, are the similarities between the decorative motifs with which the cupboard is carved and the scheme used to decorate the Mansion's interior. In particular, a motif consisting of a four-petalled flower and two lines is carved on the stiles of the panelling of the dais in the Hall, and is repeated on the door rails to the upper part of the cupboard. A more sophisticated and elaborate four-petal design encases both Rychard and Margerye's mask, each proudly centred to the lower cupboard doors. In addition, the mouldings which appear on the pilasters of the lower half of the cupboard are repeated on the capitals and pilasters to an overmantel situated in another room in the west wing of the Mansion.

    This lot is sold with a copy of Susan Bourne's article, a cutting from the 1952 sale catalogue of Betton Hall, two cuttings from 1952 newspapers reporting on the cupboard's return to the Mansion, and a brochure of the house, showing the cupboard in situ.
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  1. David Houlston
    Specialist - Oak Furniture
    Banbury Road
    Oxford, United Kingdom OX5 1JH
    Work 01865 853667
    FaxFax: +44 1865 372 722
  2. Megan Wheeler
    Specialist - Oak Furniture
    Banbury Road
    Oxford, United Kingdom OX5 1JH
    Work 01865 853668
    FaxFax: +44 1865 372 722