A George III painted wood and embroidered canopy bed  circa 1780
Lot 51TP
A George III painted wood and embroidered canopy bed
circa 1780
Sold for £ 25,000 (US$ 32,496) inc. premium

Important Design

25 Oct 2017, 14:00 BST

London, New Bond Street

Lot Details
A George III painted wood and embroidered canopy bed  circa 1780 A George III painted wood and embroidered canopy bed  circa 1780 A George III painted wood and embroidered canopy bed  circa 1780 A George III painted wood and embroidered canopy bed  circa 1780
A George III painted wood and embroidered canopy bed
circa 1780
With valances, hangings and curtains variously embroidered on linen-backed silk with the Order of the Garter, irises and foliage, the shaped arched canopy carved with a stiff-leaf top edge above a ribbon-and-reel moulding, on ring turned baluster front columns decorated with oak leaves and acorns, over a shaped entrelac carved frame, on turned tapering front legs with recessed brass castors, and square section rear legs terminating in wooden castors, typical minor restorations to the needlework. 164cm wide x 197cm deep x 286cm high, (64 1/2in wide x 77 1/2in deep x 112 1/2in high)


  • The Spains Hall Bed

    By family repute the offered lot was among a number of items which John Coope possibly purchased at Christie's, London, Queen Charlotte's sale, May 1819.
    John Coope, whose son was Octavius Edward Coope MP (1814-86), was born in London in 1760 and resided at Great Cumberland Place.
    John, who went on to marry Anna Maria Doorman (herself born in 1791), was the most likely purchaser of the bed.
    It was allegedly brought to Spains Hall in Finchingfield, Essex by Mabel Coope, John's granddaughter, probably following her marriage in 1876 to Archibald Weyland Ruggles-Brise.
    Spains Hall, Finchingfield, Essex and thence by descent.

    It is possible that the needlework was executed by the young ladies and teenage girls who formed part of a school of embroidery established in London during the early 1770s by Mrs Phoebe Wright. Although the idea was in fact proposed by Her Majesty Queen Charlotte (1744-1818), the institution itself was never granted the title of 'The Royal School of Embroidery', despite it being generally overseen by the Queen herself.

    Upon discovering that various young daughters of professional men, connected in some way with the Royal court, were living in a state of poverty following a downturn in their families' fortunes, Queen Charlotte took action to rectify this. The widower Mrs Phoebe Wright was asked by the Queen to set up a school in order to assist such girls' short term needs by providing them with somewhere suitable to live, teach them essential feminine skills, as well as help them to learn the profession of embroidery thereby giving them the opportunity to financially support themselves in the future. Also Queen Charlotte donated the school that was consequently established with an annual sum of £500.

    The most notable commission was for the embroidery on the Queen's new state bed at Windsor Castle, which is now housed at Hampton Court Palace. However, as a result of this Royal seal of approval and aforementioned sponsorship, numerous aristocrats and wealthy members of the gentry subsequently commissioned a variety of needlework from Mrs Wright's institution. Following Phoebe Wright's death in 1778, upon the advice of Queen Charlotte the former's niece Mrs Pawsey took over the management of the school. Significantly its charitable ethos, excellent reputation and national renown were retained, while orphaned or disadvantaged girls from the daughters of clergymen and military officers also began to be accepted places at the establishment.

    Spains Hall
    Spains Hall is an Elizabethan country house near Finchingfield in Essex. The hall is named after Hervey de Ispania, the first family to own the house. The Estate passed to the Kempe family on the marriage of Margery de Ispania to Nicholas Kempe in the early 15th century. After the Kempe line failed, the house was bought in 1760 by Samuel Ruggles. Spains Hall remains the seat of his descendants the Ruggles Brise family. The current house dates to circa 1570, with earlier parts. The principal façade was remodelled by William Kempe in around 1585, and Dutch gables and silvered lead drainpipes were added by Robert Kempe in 1637. A park of around seven hectares surrounding the house was landscaped to a plan by Humphry Repton in around 1807; the new landscaping re-used a series of early 17th-century fishponds as ornamental water features.

    In the first half of the 17th century Sir Robert Kempe inherited the estate and was knighted by Cromwell in the hall at Spains. No son was living at his death so he was succeeded by Thomas Kempe at Pentlow. Thomas' grandson John died in 1726 and the Kempes of Essex died out in the male line. John Kempe's sister, Mary (d. 1730), took the property by her marriage to Sir Swinnerton Dyer, 3rd Baronet (1688-1736) of Great Dunmow in 1727 and with no sons in the family the estate passed to his youngest brother, Sir Thomas Dyer, 5th Baronet (1694-1780), (Essex Records Office, Estate and Family Records, Ruggles-Brise family of Spains Hall, Deeds, 1734-36, D/DRs/F7) who eventually sold the estate to Samuel Ruggles of Bocking in 1760.

    Prior to his death in 1736, Sir Swinnerton Dyer appears to have undertaken some works at the Hall, organising a conveyance of property and a mortgage agreement (Essex Records Office, Estate and Family Records, Ruggles-Brise family of Spains Hall, Deeds, 20 December 1734-22/23 December 1735 D/DRs/T3/5, D/DRs/T3/6 and D/DRs/T3/7) although this also coincides with the 1735 marriage of Sir Swinnerton Dyer's only daughter Anne who was to receive the vast sum of ten thousand pounds on this occasion. By 1760 and the sale of Spain's Hall various records state that the estate was sold to Samuel Ruggles in a rather dilapidated state. In the Ipswich Journal newspaper archive, there appears a record of a contents sale on February 25th 1761:

    'To be sold by auction on the 10th, 11th and 12th of March at Sir Thomas Dyer's, Bart, of Spains Hall, Finchingfield, Essex. Household goods-feather beds- blankets... '.

    Although it has not been possible to trace a copy of any catalogue it seems likely that Samuel Ruggles would have needed to have purchase furniture for the hall and this may have been negotiated with the sale of the Hall or purchased from the contents sale as he was moving from a more modest village house on Bradford Street, Bocking (Essex Records Office, Sound Archive, 1985).

    The Ruggles family at Spains Hall
    Samuel Ruggles, the Bocking clothier and his eldest son both died in 1764 and his younger son John only came of age in 1769. The previous year a fire had destroyed the north-east wing of the Hall, which John then had rebuilt. He used Spains Hall as a bachelor retreat, and bequeathed it to his cousin Thomas on his death in 1776. Thomas Ruggles (1737?-1813) moved from Clare in Suffolk to Spains Hall in 1795 and began a series of repairs and alterations, including the building of a new south-east wing by J A Repton (1775-1860) and the development of the park. In 1807 Ruggles commissioned Humphry Repton (1752-1818) to suggest improvements to the gardens. Thomas was succeeded in 1813 by John Ruggles who took the additional name of Brise in 1827. John died in 1852 and left the estate to Colonel Sir Samuel Ruggles Brise (1825 – 1899).

    K. Kane, "Mrs Phoebe Wright's Celebrated Establishment", The Regency Redingote, 2012, www.regencyredingote.wordpress.com
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  1. Thomas Moore
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