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Writing table - Paxton House writing table
  • Paxton House writing table
    Chippendale, Thomas Sr, born 1718 - died 1779
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Paxton House writing table

  • Object:

    Writing table

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1774 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Chippendale, Thomas Sr, born 1718 - died 1779 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Mahogany, with oak drawer-linings and oakd and pine used as carcase woods, the rising top inset with a panel of leather cloth.

  • Museum number:

    W.13:1 to 5-1971

  • Gallery location:

    On display at Paxton House, Berwick on Tweed []

On loan to Paxton House.

Physical description

Pembroke reading and writing table of mahogany, with oak drawer-linings and oak and pine used as carcase woods, the rising top inset with a panel of leathercloth. No decorative mouldings or carving. In contrast to most pembroke tables, the flaps on this one are attached to the shorter sides, in the manner later used for sofa tables.

The table is raised on square-sectioned legs, chamfered on the inner corners. Holes underneath the legs show that the table was originally fitted with large castors. Between the side legs are rectangular-sectioned stretchers, with rounded top surfaces.

The lower edge of the front apron of the table is stop chamfered. At the sidse the apron panels are both stop-chamfered and cut with a rebate behind this. The side aprons are of pine, stained red. Each shows a wooden knuckle-hinged section that supports the narrow side flaps of the table. Each of these sections is shaped at the opening end into an ogee curve, and chamfered on the inner edge. On the right side, this section opens at the back, on the left at the front. On the front and back edges of the left side is glued a small upright rectangular pad of mahogany, with chamfered edges. This keeps the flap at exact right-angles to the table when the flap is down, filling in the space required to allow a rule joint at the top of each flap. On the right side these pads are missing.

The top of the central section snow a recessed panel covered with leathercloth (probably a replaecment). The border on the front edge is wider (3cm) than those on the other three and is set with brass -collared recesses for turn catches to hold the pages of a book. These are now missing. The easel mechanism under the top is in unpolished mahogany, with struts at each side that can be set in any of ten different grooves cut into the reddened pine carcase of the under-top. This under-top is carefully cut out to allow for the recessing of the hinges.

The front apron of the table is set with three drawers, all of dovetailed construction and set with mahogany cock beads around the front edges. Each is set with a small brass loop handles, cast as addorsed C-scrolls. These are fixed with circular nuts that are countersunk on the inner side of the drawers. The handles on the outer drawers are smaller than those on the central drawer. The central one takes almost the whole width and is unfitted. The carcase of this is of oak, the grain of the base running side to side, the base rebated into the side and running under the bakc. It is set underneath with deep (8mm) runners on the front and sides. The front of this drawer is set with a countersunk brass lock, the keyhole on the outside just outline with brass. The two side drawers are of equal, small size. The carcases are of oak, the bases inset into the side and running under the backs. Each drawer is set with two square compartments at the front, for ink or sand, but with no surviving fittings. SM 20/8/2003

Place of Origin

London (made)


1774 (made)


Chippendale, Thomas Sr, born 1718 - died 1779 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Mahogany, with oak drawer-linings and oakd and pine used as carcase woods, the rising top inset with a panel of leather cloth.


Height: 71 cm, Width: 134.4 cm open, Width: 98 cm closed

Object history note

'to a mahogany writeing Table with 2 Flaps the middle part coverd with Cloath and made to rise & drawers for papers, pens, Ink, Sand etc. on Castors... £3.8.0.'

Invoice in Messrs. Chippendale Haig & Co.'s account on 9th May 1774.

Historical context note

The table was probably supplied for a bedroom and was recorded in the purple bedroom at Paxton in 1819; it is a combination of an architects' table, reading table, and pembroke table, and is a forerunner of the sofa table, which was to become so popular during the Regency period.

Displayed in the exhibition 'Thomas Chippendale and his Patrons in the North', Leeds, 18th October - 14th November 1968, No. 29.

Descriptive line

Paxton House writing table

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Catalogue label, 1972.


Oak; Mahogany; Pine; Leathercloth


Furniture; Writing; Interiors


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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