A Fine Regency Mahogany Writing Table by John Syers

Height: 31" 79cm
Width: 72½" 184cm
Depth: 40¼" 102cm
Origination: English
Circa: 1815

This table provides us with a salutary lesson in making hasty attributions. The table is one of four known examples that had traditionally been attributed to Gillow, the renowned cabinet-making firm. Of these four, one is at Broughton Hall. Although the four tables are a few years later, there is a similarity between their design and a drawing for a library table by Gillow dated 1792. Considering that when Broughton was enlarged between 1810 and 1813 by the architect William Atkinson, and the house, including the library, was furnished by Gillow, the attribution seems reasonable.

However, a more recent examination of the house accounts revealed that John Syers of Broad Street, London, had supplied Stephen Tempest with the table at Broughton Hall, Yorkshire at a cost of £34 18s in 1813.

With regards to its provenance, this superb writing table graced Leeds Castle, the home of Lady Mary Baillie. Lady Baillie became renowned as a hostess with a wide-ranging circle of friends. During the 1930s, members of Royalty – including the Prince of Wales with Mrs Simpson, Queen Elizabeth (the future Queen Mother) – and politicians such as Sir Anthony Eden all attended her parties. Being a great lover of the cinema, her guests also included the film stars Douglas Fairbanks Senior and Junior, Charlie Chaplin, Errol Flynn and James Stewart.

The Hon. Lady Mary Bailie, D.B.E. Leeds Castle, Kent

C. Claxton Stevens & S Whittington, 18th Century English Furniture, The Norman Adams Collection. p.164

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