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Bealing, Richard (1656–1723)

Bealing, Richard

London; draper, upholder and Royal Upholsterer (fl. 1656-d. 1723)

Richard Bealing was the son of a yeoman, Henry Bealing of Silton, Devon, apprenticed on 10 September 1656 through the Drapers' Company to Samuel Stanton for seven years and made free by servitude on 4 November 1663. He bound his first apprentice, Edward Colborn on 6 November 1667, suggesting that by this date he had established his own workshop. Over the years 1671 -1705 he also apprenticed: Ambrose Burlz (1671); Robert Moston (1672); John Devenish (1675); Richard Wright (1678); Charles Whitebrowne (1687); William Taylor (1705); and made free: Samuel Tull (1706) and Richard Norton (1712) [Records of London Livery Companies Online]. 

By 1685 he was located in Bedford Street, Covent Garden, when a man employed by him as a porter was charged with stealing '34 Yards of Paragon, valued at 34 Shillings, and 2 Yards and a half of Crimson Damask' [Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 9 December 1685 (Ref. t16851209-10].

Bealing canopy of State
Copyright (Attribution/Credit)
Detail from an engraving by Romeyn de Hooghe of the coronation of William III and Mary II in Westminster Abbey, 21 April 1689 (RP-P-OB-79.452). Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum. CC0 1.0 Universal. The canopies were erected by Richard Bealing. CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE

Bealing replaced Jean Poictevin as the upholsterer at the Royal Wardrobe in 1688 and was named frequently in the Royal Household accounts between 1688–1714, for supplying bedding, cushions, upholstered furniture, curtains etc. for the Houses of Parliament, Hampton Court, Kensington Palace, Whitehall Palace and Windsor Castle. The royal bills on 5 April 1689 has a brief comment 'Richard Bealing, "Upholsterer for the Coronacon" [Beard, Upholsterers p. 100].  

The commissions listed below do not constitute a comprehensive account of Bealing's supply.

Royal Commissions
  • Whitehall Palace: (1688) For the Queen's Little Bedchamber, 'bordered and Strip'd and all the puffs done Round the Same instead of fringe and putting up' [TNA. LC 9/279, no. 63, f. 169v]; (1693) Supplied a ‘very fashionable’ Indian damask bed, and in the same year also a French bedstead, and ‘Damaske hangings … finely fringed’; (1700) Made up white paragon draw string cases for the rock crystal lustre and the two silver branches in the public rooms of the King's apartments [TNA LC5/44, fol.96].
  • Hampton Court Palace: (1689) For a bedstead, a canopied bed of drugget decorated with fringe, a feather bed and bolster, a paire of blankets and a rug for Mary II's own Necessary Woman.' £11 10s [TNA LC9/279, fol. 133]; (1696) The State bed of William III now at Hampton Court; (1699-1700) Supplied to the groom of H M Bedchamber, ‘a fine flowered worsted Damask bed … and two elbow & four back chairs covered with the same fringed & done as the bed … £60’. A canopy of State for the King's First Presence Chamber (illustrated below); 
  • Image
    Bealing canopy of State
    Copyright (Attribution/Credit)
    Royal Collection Trust
    A canopy of state in crimson damask and gold braid; with scalloped inner and outer valances, bordered by fringes of ornate gimp headings, bell shaped tassles and hangers of crimped thread tied into bundles. William III's arms embroidered on backcloth, 1699-1700 (RCIN 1001).Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2023
  • Hampton Court Palace continued  (1699-1700) Provided curtains for the privy and presence chambers, eating room, withdrawing room and closet made of 530 yards of 'white flowered damask' £1,700 [TNA, LC9/281, f.78v]; (1700/1) Paid for upholstering two stools and an elbow chair made by Thomas Roberts for Hampton Court, and for upholstering ‘four large sophas’ and covering with green mohair ‘laced with gold’; (1702) Supplied a 'very large downe bed' (that was placed on top of the mattresses), 'a very fine large mattress quilt', 'a large bolster covered with sattin', a 'large Quilt covered with Sattin', and a pair of 'very fine large silk blankets [TNA LC9/28I , fol. 31]; (1703/4)  For 'ye velvet bed and hangings in ye little bedchamber' to be sent to the Removing Wardrobe and 'ye Yellow Damask Bed with Silver Galloon' to be 'sett up in its room' [TNA LC5/153, foI5.396-7]. For setting up the Bedd brought from Windsor and mending the same being much out of order £1 10s. For mending a silk Blankett 5s. For new Scowering a Sattin quilt 12s. For new carding ye flocks 6s. For new making up the Sattin quilt and Silk sleeve 10s. For nailes hooks and small materials used about ye sd Bedd 5s. For charges in going there and coming back 5s 6d [TNA LC9/282, fol. 29]. 
  • Westminster Abbey, London (1692): Provided cases for ‘St. Edward's Chair’. A bill from December that year charged to ‘her Matie’ includes ‘a fine carved Couch frame wth rounde ends of wallnuttre fully Carved at £3’, with materials to upholster it including ‘a thick squab Cushing … Gilt nailes and tax’, and down-filled cushions covered with ‘vellvett fringd and tassells’. The bill also listed an ‘Easey Chaire frame wth eares and elbowes finely carvd at £1.15’, upholstered and covered with velvet, edged with ‘fine crimson Ingrane firing’ and tassels. 
  • Kensington Palace: (1689) Made up upholstered items and in the Queen's Closets hung mohair, blue damask with Indian borders. For the Queen's anteroom to dressing room he hung brocatelle [TNA LC5/165; LC9/279]; (1693/4) Covered the King's sleeping chair in the Chapel and setting-up the staff officer's new bed in crimson morella mohair and crimson sarsnet and equipping the Earl of Abermarle's apartment [TNA, LC5/165; LC9/280]; (1695) After the Queen's death on 28 December 1694, decking out rooms with fine purple cloth and black cloth defined for other royal apartments, the King's bedchamber of purple cloth [TNA, LC5/165. p. 5; LC9 280, ff.187,189v, 192v]; (1696) A ‘clothbed being finely done, and carved work’. For the New Gallery, fine white India damask window curtains £18; 9 large and deep window curtains to draw up, with valence to the same with tassels to each curtain and carved cornice covered with damask' [TNA LC9/377]; (1697) 'making all the green velvet hangings for the gallery, containing 16 pieces, 54 yards by 5 yards, all lined with linnen and fringed' £50. 'dyed linnen to line all the gallery hangings being 54 yards by 5 yeards deep' £25 [TNA LC9/380]; The sewing silk £5 10s, carriage 10s, and 'work for severall men to fit all the hangings in the gallery and putting up window curtains in the King's closet' £3 15s, together with his coach hire 'for myself to attend the business there' 15s. Also bottomed and covered twenty large stools for the gallery, with velvet 'finely fringed and tassells to the same' £6, and given them all large down cushions £15. Also 'sending all the stools on prters' backs. The stools were complimented by two large couches  stuffed with fine curled hair within linen casings, with 'fine seats of down in fine ticken', these covered in green velvet, fringed with gold [Beard, pp. 1311-2]; (1698) a ‘scarlet & white damask bed, very fine, & covering all ye carving of ye tester, headboard & cornices & base mouldings’, costing £30; (1699) A ‘crimson & gold velvett bed after ye newest fashion’ and 'line ye doore' of the King's little bedchamber 'to keep it Warm [TNA LC9/281, fo1.29]; (1703) Altering (with Thomas Roberts) a bed frame, window cornices and curtains for Queen Anne and for upholstering an armchair and two stools to match an existing set. The chair and stools were later removed to Warwick Castle, where they remain. 
  • Windsor Castle: (1699-1700) Removed ‘Ye Kings Bed and hangings’ from Windsor to Hampton Court, set it up and supplied new bedding. He also upholstered a canopy and chair of State, two walnut stools, four long forms of walnut etc. for the Privy Chamber at Hampton Court, the frames having been made by Thomas Roberts.
Stately Home Commissions
  • Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire (5th Earl of Bedford): (1672 -1682) Provided beds, chairs, curtains and wall-hangings. Eight accounts exist in which 361 items are specified, totalling £556. He also acted for the Earl at the auction sale in 1676 when he bought the crimson damask bed which had belonged to the Earl's sister, Margaret, Dowager Countess of Manchester. Invoiced for a twelve skinleather carpet bound with gilt leather, scouring tapestry, taking down hangings and beds [Bedford MSS., Bills, Nos 28-9, 1680].
  • Knole, Kent (6th Earl of Dorset): (1689) Charged £27 'ffor 20 fine horse bone chairs stufed in Seats in Dyed lining and Japand black at 27s per' [KLHC A194/3];(1689, 1692, 1693) Providing elbow and easy chairs, cushions, black japanned chairs, case covers, Barbary mats, fustian quilts, 'a large and very high bedstead' with the scrolls of the tester japanned, and all the bedclothes.

Bealing was buried on 23 October 1723 in the parish of St. Paul's Covent Garden. His Will was probated on 16 April 1724 [TNA PROB, 3/23/83].

Bealing and Reeve

As Richard Bealing's upholstery activities died away towards the end of Queen Anne's reign, for a short period he concurrently established a partnership with a fellow royal upholsterer, Hamden Reeve. Geoffrey Beard was unable to establish whether this was perhaps simply an estate administration for Bealing, filed in 1724 [TNA Prob. 31/23/f.387, 26 June 1724]. It makes mention of 'An Accompt  relateing to the Wardrobe, 1697' [Beard, p. 144].

Sources: DEFM; Geoffrey Beard, Upholsterers (1996); Olivia Fryman, 'Making The Bed: The Practice, Role and Significance of Housekeeping in the Royal Bedchambers at Hampton Court Palace, 1689-1737', PhD thesis, Kingston University and Historic Royal Palaces (2011); Lucy Wood, ‘A Royal Relic: The State Bedroom Suite of Warwick Castle’, Furniture History (2012); Annabel Westman, The Art of the Trimmings-Maker in Interior Decoration: Fringe Frog & Tassel (2019); Christopher Rowell, 'Seventeenth-Century Furniture at Knole', Furniture History (2023). 

The original entry from Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, 1660-1840 can be found at British History Online.