The Nostell Priory Cabinets

March 11 2010, 3:44pm

Nostell Priory. © The National Trust 2003-05

Nostell Priory is a Palladian house in Nostell, West Yorkshire, built on the site of a medieval priory.  The estate was purchased by the Winn family in the 1650’s and that family has lived there ever since construction began on the present building in 1733, to a design based on Palladio’s Villa Mocenigo.  The house retains extensive work by the celebrated architects and designers James Paine and Robert Adam, with decorative painting by A. Zucchi and a collection of furniture by Thomas Chippendale. The Nostell Priory breakfront side cabinets designed by Thomas Ward. Carlton Hobbs LLC.

The home remained largely unaltered through the end of the 18th century until Charles Winn began improvements at the house, which were carried out between 1819-36.  In the Carlton Hobbs LLC collection, we have a pair of breakfront cabinets made during this rare period of activity and refurbishing at Nostell Priory.  They were almost certainly designed by Thomas Ward of Frith Street and were supplied for the breakfast room, which he redecorated entirely from 1819 to 1821. One of the cabinets in situ, the Breakfast Room, Nostell Priory, 1915.

These cabinets are constructed of solid Goncalo Alves, a rare and expensive timber, which, in its color and figuring, lies midway between mahogany and rosewood.  The making of these cabinets was obviously a long and costly project.  The detailed carving runs to over two hundred feet in length; in addition much attention has been paid to the elaborate grills and the quirky ball-and-spire alternating with trefoil design of the gallery. Detail of the superb carving.