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Lillie, James (1739-1760)

Lillie, James

Norfolk; carver, carpenter and joiner (fl. 1739-60)

Lillie lived locally near to Holkham Hall and worked there exclusively from 1739 until his death in 1760, with much of his work focused on fitted joinery. His first recorded account, dated 29 December 1739, was 'for making of Furniture for the New House, £17.12.6'. Early accounts indicate that he worked in partnership with a man called Copeman and that both oversaw a team of craftspeople on a variety of carpentry and joinery tasks. For example, in October 1743: 

  • To Mr. Lillie for putting up Shelves and other work £2.14.11
  • Do. for preparing a closet for paper, putting up beds &c £3.7.2
  • Do. for making 2 fishing Stools, and frames for pictures £1.17.0

By the 1750s he was making furniture and in1758 he was paid for making:

  • 4 large walnuttree chairs, £7.7.0
  • 4 small settees for the Salloon £3.0.0
  • 1 large sofa for the Drawing Room £1.10.0
  • For 2 frames over ye saloon chimney pieces' £4.4.0

Katherine Hardwick commented in her 2023 Furniture History article that 'the cost of the frames is quite low for what are remarkably elaborate pieces, and it appears that Lillie may have constructed the carcass, with unnamed carvers, employed by the architect, Matthew Brettingham (between 1756–59, Lillie worked with Brettingham at Holkham). Hardwick continued her analysis writing that 'stylistically, the two frames begun by Lillie are indebted to Kent, with highly sculptural cornucopiae and pineapples adjourning the top rails'.   

In 1757 he was also recorded for making a canopy for the Green State Bed at Holkham Hall and in 1758 for erecting it.

James Lilley died in 1761.

For further information see Lilly

Source: Katherine Hardwick, 'Furnishing Holkham Hall: London Makers and Local Men', Furniture History (2023), pp.139-142.


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