It is not that often that you come across a piece of furniture that has lived in the same family for years. This Bureau Cabinet from the golden age of English Furniture has most likely lived with the Oaks Family for many years of its life.
This bookcase was owned by the Oakes Family of Nowton Court. The cheque book of Mrs Oakes isinside the bookcase along with quite remarkably the original architects drawing of Nowton court on linen with the name J H Porteus Oakes and a later updated drawing with the name James Oakes. The address on the book was Breckey Ley (formerly called Brakeley House) It forms part of the wider Nowton Estate. This was in the ownership of the Oakes family for over 150 years. Breckey Ley was built around 1880 as the dower house for Nowton Court and occupied by the family ever since.
Henry James Oakes (born 1796 in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk; died 1875 in Nowton, Suffolk) was an English first-class cricketer. He is recorded as a batsman for Cambridge University in one match in 1819, totalling 6 runs with a highest score of 5 not out.
Oakes’ family lived at Nowton Court, Nowton, Suffolk, near Bury St Edmunds. He was educated at Reading School, Bury St Edmunds Grammar School and Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He inherited Nowton Court in 1837 and became lord of the manorof Nowton. He was head of his family’s bank, Oakes, Bevan & Co. (later Oakes, Bevan, Tollemache & Co., taken over in 1900 by Capital and Counties Bank, which was acquired by Lloyds Bank in 1918). He was mayor of Bury St Edmunds in 1844 and High Sheriff of Suffolk in 1847.
The piece I refer to is pictured below. It is a fine and rare early 18th Century Walnut Bureau Cabinet in figured walnut having superb colour and patina with original glass plates. The drawer linings are in oak, they are wonderfully clean and completely original. The cabinet interior is fitted with the most amazing arrangement of drawers with a shaped door to the centre. The bookcase has been made in three sections which is consistent with many of the finest quality examples of the period. The interior of the middle section contains some nicely made secret drawers. The back boards are all original.
We have not seen an interior quite like this before, it was probably specially commissioned for a wealthy customer who was possibly Lord of the Manner at Nowton.
The quality of the craftsmanship and unique interior along with the selection of superbly figured veneers suggest that this piece was an important commission.
I believe very few of these interesting and nicely shaped stools were made. This example probably came from the same workshop as the one photographed in the revised dictionary of English furniture. The Lovely shape of the saddle seat is very pleasing on the eye.
A very good 18th Century Oak spoon rack of quite large proportions. With checkered inlay in the drawer front and nicely shaped back. The drawer with fitted compartments. Good colour throughout.
It is rare to find an early 18th century walnut chest of drawers of such small size , especially one in much sort after Burr Walnut. The handles have been replaced in keeping with the period, The Drawers are in good clean condition and lined in Oak. The Caddy top is an interesting feature and was fashionable in the George 1st period when this chest was made. The proportions of the chest work very well with the brushing slide and nicely graduating drawers.
A Fine and impressive George 11 Gilt Wood Mirror in the manner of William Kent. Ornately Decorated with egg and dart molding, foliage and Venus shell with scrolled swan neck pediment centered with a superbly carved cartouche and plume. The beveled plate is possibly re silvered or replaced. The Mirror is in very good condition retaining most of its wonderful bright original gilding.
122 x 70
A Fine and rare 18th Century Hepplewhite Armchair of superb design and craftsmanship. We believe this chair to have been made in the same workshop as the one described and photographed in Arther Negus book: going for a song. Negus talks of the skill of the carver ,the swags of drapery so light that they really look like material. The arms ,look at this little shaped arm here , carved with blue bell drops or husks. The result has been to reduce the arm from a massive heavy support into a slim graceful shape.
He talks of the amount of wood taken away to produce such a light elegant yet very strong chair. Note that the chair pictured in Negus book is missing its carved flowers at the top of the legs, these were probably damaged and then removed.
This is a rare example of a 1760s Chippendale chair, having a carved cresting rail and splat, well shaped arms and supports , blind fret square chamfered legs and pierced stretchers. Made from quality west Indian mahogany rarely found in later 19th century pieces , you can usually tell an 18th century piece of mahogany simply by its weight.
The chair has a well shaped cresting rail molded and reeded forming in the up turned ends O G shapes and scrolls , the reed terminating in a tassel which encroaches onto the splat.
The profile of the O G shape at the end of the crest is exactly the same as the capitals on 17th century carved columns. The vase shaped splat combines both the classical C scrolls and swags with the Gothic which the 18th century chair makers combined so successfully. The splat flows nicely into the molded and curved shoe at the bottom.
The front square chamfered legs have a blind fret applied ,the chamfer gives them a lighter appearance. They are Joined by elegant pierced stretchers.
The joints are mostly mortice and tenon, the exception being the arms to the back legs which is a hidden dovetail and the arm supports to the rails being a half lap. The center stretcher dovetails down into the side rails except for the front edge where it forms a V joint. Unlike the country elm, ash, and oak chairs pegs were rarely used with the mortice and tenon joints.
We were fortunate enough to find a Queen Ann Bureau of Small proportions recently. Over the Years these rare small pieces have always proved much more desirable than there larger more common counterparts. We have always said that anything around 30″ wide is the magic size. I think one of the reasons is that people can find space for a small piece but also true is that the proportions work well at this size when it has been designed properly and the piece often looks much more attractive.The Queen Ann cabinet maker was in general a very skilled one. The construction of the bureau is fairly typical of the better quality work of this period with the top and bottom being dovetailed into the sides. the sides are rebated in order to take the back boards and dust boards, those being the divisions between the drawers. The drawers are dovetailed together and the interior is rebated and v jointed at the front edge. The Bureau has Bun feet that are throw back to the William and Mary period that can only have ended a few years before this piece was made. The double bead molding on the front of the carcass is a feature of the queen Ann period, as is the bold O G waist mold. The fall opens to reveal a stepped interior and sliding well, another feature of this early period.
We have in the last couple of months been fortunate to buy three early Oak Coffers in the kind of condition we really always want to see them in. That is completely original, without repair. In fact all three have retained there original hinges. We were also delighted to obtain a wonderfully figured Walnut Gorge 1st bureau of lovely small proportions. An incredibly rare feature of this piece is the fact that it is veneered mostly on Mahogany which would normally of course be an indicator that it had been veneered later, but not in this case. close examination showed that the veneer was in fact without question completely original to the piece. further proof of this was the fact that the ends are veneered on pine and the feet veneered on a mixture of woods. The interior being made completely in walnut with no signs of alterations further proved that this had indeed always been a walnut Bureau and a very fine one at that.