Posts tagged ‘Temple Newsam House’

April 6, 2017

‘Here it is Now!’ – Phillips of Hitchin in the UK, USA and Australia.

As readers of the Antique Dealer research blog will know, we have recently posted more ‘Where is it Now?’ objects, illustrating images from some of the early 20th century photograph stock albums in the Phillips of Hitchin archive, now at the Brotherton Library Special Collections. We thought you would be interested, and amused perhaps, to hear about a kind of reverse of the ‘Where is it Now?’ theme (a kind of ‘Here it is Now!’) – i.e. the catalyst for this blog post was not an illustration of an object in the PoH archive, attempting to set up a link from the archive to the outside world, but rather a photograph of an object in a public museum, that links back to the archive. Indeed, the photograph generated an investigation of other museum collections, which has further demonstrated the international significance of the Phillips of Hitchin archive.

Anyway, the PoH archive was generously donated to the Brotherton Library Special Collections by Jerome Phillips, the 3rd generation of antique dealers associated with the business that has always been located at The Manor House, Hitchin since it was established in 1884. Jerome retired in 2014, and as many of you will know, is still in regular contact with us at the university; we often update him on the progress with his family business archive – Jerome is, after all, a living extension to the archive!

Jerome emailed us recently following an update from us on the archive, and mentioned that his wife, Barbara, was in Australia, and had been to the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne and whilst there she spotted a pair of chairs that Phillips of Hitchin had sold to the (then) Victoria State Gallery, Melbourne, in 1961.  Here is Barbara’s photograph of the chairs in situ (you can also spot Barbara reflected in the 18th century mirror!).

Pair of Houghton Hall chairs at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Photograph courtesy of Barbara Phillips, 2017.

Houghton Hall chair, Temple Newsam House, Leeds. Photo c.1960, courtesy of Temple Newsam House, Leeds.

The chairs are related to a set of chairs at Houghton Hall, Norfolk, a very large suite of furniture, including 2 settees, made by Richard Roberts in the period c.1720; the chairs were acquired by the Gallery of Victoria through the Felton Bequest in 1961, through Phillips of Hitchin (see here for a link to the museum catalogue entry).

The pair of chairs now in Australia came from a set of six chairs acquired by Phillips of Hitchin in 1960; Jerome tells us that he thinks his father bought the 6 chairs at auction (not direct from Houghton Hall).  PoH then sold the chairs to four different museums in 1960 and 1961. One chair from the set was sold to Temple Newsam House, Leeds in June 1960, for the sum of £275.00, and described, in the PoH archive invoice as ‘a walnut and parcel gilt chair ensuite with chairs at Houghton Hall’. The chair in the first B&W photograph is the Temple Newsam House example, photographed in c.1960.

Another single chair was sold to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London in the same year.

Houghton Hall chair, Victoria & Albert Museum. Photograph c.1960. Copyright V&A Museum.

It seems quite strange perhaps that one of the pair of chairs were split up into single objects, rather than being retained as a pair (or indeed retaining the set of 6 chairs together), but the rationale, in the 1960s, was to distribute key examples of objects across as many museums as possible in order to allow more distributed access – this kind of materiality of things was a dominant idea in a period when object-based study was a key element in the structures of knowledge.

It’s interesting to note that the more recent acquisition by the V&A of the remaining large suite of furniture to which these 6 chairs relate, as part of the 2002 Acceptance in Lieu Scheme for the Inheritance Tax Settlement of the Cholmondeley Estate, has stipulated that the remaining suite of furniture remains in situ at Houghton Hall.

Chair in situ at Houghton Hall, Norfolk. Photograph copyright V&A Museum.

The last pair of chairs from the set of 6 acquired by Phillips of Hitchin were sold by the dealers in 1960 to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, through the Harris Brisbane Dick Fund. Here is a link to the online catalogue for the chairs.

‘Houghton Hall’ chair, c.1720. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Photograph, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2017.

And so, in this little example of the acquisition and distribution of this suite of Antique Furniture we can see not only the significant role of the antique dealer in the dissemination of objects across three Continents…..but also the shifting significance of the notion of historical context, cultural heritage, and museum collecting policies in the last 50 years or so.  And with that, the growing sense of the significance of the Phillips of Hitchin archive now held at the University of Leeds.


May 8, 2016

Conference ‘Impact’ – Temple Newsam staff….and the REF

The Antique Dealer Project Conference generated a great deal of positive discussion and feedback – thank you again to everyone that participated and contributed during the 2 days – and to those that helped with the organisation….we could not have delivered the conference without so much help and enthusiastic interest from everyone involved.

We are working on some analysis of the conference, summaries of the sandpits and etc – and our team of Postgraduate students who worked so hard during the conference are also hard at work compiling the analysis…that should be ready soon and will be distributed to all conference delegates, and uploaded to the project website.

The project conference was also a strategic part of the Antique Dealer research project itself, and so as part of the analysis we are also continuing to evaluate the research ‘Impact’ of the project.  Research Impact, as those in the world of academia will know, is now a key aspect of all university research projects – and is a fundamental part of the REF (Research Excellence Framework).  The REF is the quality assessment mechanism that all UK research intensive universities participate in, every 5 years or so – the next REF exercise is due to be in 2020. Anyway, as part of the research impact for the Antique Dealers project we are keen to capture and assess how the research has effected (impacted upon) anyone outside of the world of academia.

And talking to Bobbie Roberton (Keeper) and Rachel Conroy (Curator) at Temple Newsam House, they mentioned how much the staff at Temple Newsam House enjoyed the conference, and how many new things about the collections at Temple Newsam they had learned as a result of the conference – so this was an opportunity made in heaven for our Research Impact! I hot-footed it to Temple Newsam last week to have a chat with the TN staff.  We staged an informal ‘focus-group’ feedback session, with tea and cake generously provided by Temple Newsam! Here are some of the staff who give their time so generously too – left to right – Michael Clark, Lyn Crispin and Helen Clayton (who’s father is also an antique dealer!…) – also present was Debra Crossley, but she had to leave before I took the photograph….

tn focus group

Temple Newsam House staff – Michael Clark, Lyn Crispin and Helen Clayton.

There were so many positive comments from Michael, Lyn, Helen and Deborah – they tell me that it was so illuminating having Antique Dealers talking about the objects at Temple Newsam, and that they had not realised how significant the antique trade had been in the development of the collections. One of the really positive outcomes of the conference is that Michael, Lyn, Helen and Deborah have all indicated that they will share their new knowledge with the public visitors coming to TN….now that IS a real result!

Thank you again to all the staff at TN for all their help and enthusiastic support to the Antique Dealers Research project.


April 9, 2016

Project Conference

We are on the final straight for the AHRC Antique Dealers project Conference – which takes place at Temple Newsam House, Leeds on Thursday 14th & Friday 15th April – this coming week!

project posterWe are also very pleased to announce that the British Antique Dealers’ Association (BADA) have very generously sponsored the conference – Print The BADA are sending their Chief Executive, Marco Forgione, and their Secretary General, Mark Dodgson, to the conference, as a further demonstration of their commitment and support to the project – thank you BADA!

Our conference preparations are going well, with all of the Temple Newsam House tours now finalised – we are taking an unusual (for a museum anyway) tour through the spectacular museum objects on display at Temple Newsam – the narrative will be objects that have entered the collections via the Antiques Trade, or through the auspices of Antique Dealers – so that’s just about every object at TN of course, but we are highlighting particular objects and their history in the antique trade as part of the tours.  The tours will be led by museum curators, and antique dealers, so we hope that there will be lots of things to discuss!

We are also showing various antique dealer related archives, and ephemera associated with the Antique Trade as part of the activities on the first day of the conference – much of the material is exceptionally rare. And as well as all these tours, and behind the scenes activities, we are also having a wine reception in the early evening, with very talented pianist playing the historic Broadwood piano in the Great Hall at TN…what’s not to like!

And on the Friday we have some leading Antique Dealers talking about the history of their dealerships, and some of our Oral History Interviewees, ‘In Conversation’ – as well as some ‘Sandpits’ at the end of the conference, where the whole conference can get involved in discussing the issues raised and history of the antique trade – we hope that the conference will be a fully immersive and participatory event!

There are still a few places left for the conference if you are thinking of attending – you can book via the weblinks in the Antique Dealer project websites.

We very much look forward to welcoming everyone to Temple Newsam!


March 8, 2016

In the Footsteps of Roger Warner

As some of the followers to the project blog will know, part of the growing legacy of the AHRC Antique Dealer project has been the donation of several highly significant antique dealer archives to the Brotherton Library Special Collections at the University of Leeds. The archive of the well-known antique dealer Roger Warner (1913-2008) is part of this growing corpus of antique dealer material coming to Leeds – all part of a broader research initiative focused on the histories of the art and antique markets, and under the auspices of our new Centre for the Study of the Art & Antiques Market. We have exciting plans for research activities based in the new Centre in the coming months and years so do keep an eye on the Centre!

Anyway, Roger Warner – I was in Burford to oversee the collection of the first part of the Roger Warner archive – which in an extraordinarily generous act has been donated to the University of Leeds by Roger’s family, Sue Ashton, Deborah Warner and Simon Warner – we cannot thank Sue, Deborah, Simon, and Sue’s husband, Hugo, enough for their generosity and for their enthusiastic support to this ever expanding project on the history of the antique trade.

Roger Warner ran his antique shop for almost 50 years, from 1936 to 1985, and was, as many of you will know, an iconic antique dealer (perhaps one of the most emblematic antiques dealers of the 20th century) – indeed, his autobiography ‘Roger Warner, Memoirs of a Twentieth Century Antique Dealer‘ was published by the Regional Furniture Society in 2003.

The archive will be an absolutely amazing resource and, once we have it all conserved and catalogued, will be available for future researchers, scholars and those interested in this highly significant part of social and cultural life.  The Warner archive is a fascinating and exceptionally detailed history of an antique dealer;  Warner was certainly an antiquary by inclination, recording minute details of the everyday business of a dealer – he even kept a record of the footfall in his shop each year!….His ‘Annual Review and Policy Reports’ produced every year, continuously from 1951-1985, (together with two earlier annual reviews for 1947 and 1949), are fascinating personal reflections on the previous year’s trading, with commentaries on the changing markets conditions, details of auctions visited, observations on other dealers, information on significant objects bought & sold, and summaries of business accounts – they will be a key resource for anyone studying the history of the antique trade in the 20th century.

To give you a flavour of the richness of the archive, and to draw attention to its potential significance, I’ve traced just one object in the archive from its acquisition by Warner to its eventual new home at Temple Newsam House, in Leeds. The object in question is the now famous Four-poster painted bed, made to commemorate the marriage of Francis and Anne Hall, 1724.

painted bed TN

Four-poster painted bed, 1724. Temple Newsam House, Leeds. Image by kind permission of Leeds Museums & Galleries. Copyright Leeds Museums & Galleries.

The bed was acquired by Temple Newsam House (Leeds Museums & Galleries) in 1979, following a grant from the Art Fund of £2,500, for £13,000 from the London antique dealers Jellinek & Sampson, then trading in Knightsbridge.  The Warner archive records that had he sold the bed to Jellinek & Sampson on 4th November 1978 for £2,500.

The Warner archive also records the acquisition of the bed in the stock book for 1977-78 on 4th January 1977, from ‘George Carr, Lilac Hse, Kirkbride’ (Cumbria), for the sum of £850 (see image). Warner also notes, in his annual review for 1978, ‘purchase and removal early in the new year Of painted oak Tester Bed from Kirkbride, Cumbria, the bed never having been moved since its erection in room in 1724.’ (see image).

RW stock book 1978

Roger Warner Archive. Stockbook 1977-78. The Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds, currently uncatalogued. Photograph AHRC Antique Dealers project. Copyright University of Leeds 2016.

RW review

Roger Warner Archive. ‘Annual Review 1978’. The Brotherton Library Special Collections University of Leeds, currently uncatalogued item. Photograph AHRC Antique Dealers Project. Copyright University of Leeds 2016.

These fascinating insights into the provenance of just one of the 70,500 objects that Roger Warner sold illustrate the rich potential of antique dealer archives, not just for provenance research, but also for the insights that they can reveal into the social and cultural practices of the, still as yet, unexplored history of the antique trade.

But whilst I was in Burford collecting the Warner archive I also had an opportunity to ‘walk in the footsteps’ of this extraordinary dealer – thanks to Sue Ashton, Roger’s daughter, and to Nicky, who with her partner Tim now owns Roger Warner’s shop, I was taken on a journey through the spaces of Roger’s old shop.

rw shop burford

Roger Warner antique shop, High Street, Burford. Warner traded here from 1936 until his retirement in 1985.

It was fascinating and illuminating to hear Sue reminisce about the activities that took place in the various rooms – the shop had been, after all, Sue’s home for much of her life. The interior spaces had changed over the years of course, but not substantially, and Sue recalled many happy memories of her father in the shop and home. I got a sense of how Warner had used the spaces of the shop through Sue’s recollections….and also got a sense of how he had furnished the private spaces of the house/shop through some of the photographs in the Warner archive – here is Roger’s bedroom, as it was in the 1980s.

rw bedroom

Roger Warner’s bedroom, High Street, Burford, undated photograph, but early c.1980s. Roger Warner archive, The Brotherton Library, University of Leeds, currently uncatalogued item. Photograph AHRC Antique Dealer project. Copyright University of Leeds 2016.

The tour of the shop was an extraordinary personal experience, and will be invaluable in navigating the richness of the Warner archive now at the University. Thank you Sue, and Nicky, for taking the time to walk in the footsteps of Roger Warner.

Oh and for those that never met Roger – and I regret I never did – we have, thanks to the Web, some recordings of Roger Warner from the TV show ‘Going for a Song’ – this was an early precursor to the hugely popular (and still going) Antiques Roadshow. Anyway, here is Roger Warner in a 1971 episode of ‘Going for a Song’ (with that other former doyen of the world of antiques, Arthur Negus).





July 29, 2015

Antique Dealers Project Conference April 2016

We now have the dates for the Antique Dealers Project conference – it will take place on Thursday 14th April and Friday 15th April 2016, at Temple Newsam House, Leeds.


Temple Newsam House, Leeds

We hope to use the fabulous, and famous, Long Gallery at Temple Newsam, as the conference space. If you have never been to TN, then the venue itself is a reason to come!


The Long Gallery, Temple Newsam House, Leeds.

We will be posting a ‘Call for Papers’ shortly – We intend the conference to be an interactive, discussion-based, ideas laboratory for the Antiques Trade/Antiques Market, drawing from the rich history of the British Antiques Trade in the 20th century. So do keep following the project blog and the project websites for more detail as we work towards April 2016!


March 29, 2014

Project Advisory Board Meeting at Temple Newsam House, Leeds

We had our 2nd Advisory Board meeting at Temple Newsam House in Leeds on Friday 28th March. Thank you to our Advisory Board members (Reinhold Behringer, Georgina Gough, Martin Levy, James Lomax, Camilla Nichol, Judith Phillips, Emma Slocombe, and Christopher Wilk) for their continued support, advice and counsel for the Antique Dealers project. We thank James Lomax and Martin Levy, who did a little ‘trade tour’ of the collections at Temple Newsam House –


Temple Newsam House

James is emeritus curator of Temple Newsam, and Martin is the director of H. Blairman and Sons and they both talked so engagingly about the decorative and fine art objects that entered the collections via the antiques trade and are on display at Temple Newsam. Indeed, Martin had many personal recollections of the acquisition stories of many of the objects on display, including a set of 4 giltwood torcheres (see below) which Martin discovered in an auction in Switzerland in 2007 and negotiated their return to Temple Newsam House – they were originally supplied to Temple Newsam by James Pascall, for the Picture Gallery, in the 1740s, but sold from the house in 1922.


Giltwood Torcheres by James Pascall, c.1746

There were lots of fascinating anecdotes from James and Martin, stories that one never hears about – especially when one considers  the acquisition of museum objects! Some of the stories of the acquisition of objects at Temple Newsam are public knowledge – (for example, the then, in 1965, world record price of £43,050 for the Chippendale Library Table, formerly at Harewood House in Yorkshire) –


Library Table, by Thomas Chippendale, c.1771.

But Martin also told us that his father, George Levy, who bid at auction for the table, only just managed to acquire the table on behalf of Leeds City Collections (of which Temple Newsam House is a part) – George Levy managed to persuade the consortium of philanthropists who wished to buy the table for Leeds to allow him to go just one extra bid over their suggested limit for the table… very nearly got away!

There were so many more fascinating stories about the acquisition of some of the objects at Temple Newsam…part of the research project is to investigate these ‘hidden histories’!





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An International Conference hosted by The Bowes Museum and The University of Leeds

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A research project investigating the history of the antiques trade in Britain in the 20th century

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art writing * art works * art market

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A research project investigating the history of the antiques trade in Britain in the 20th century