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Litchfield & Graham (1779–1808)

Litchfield & Graham

72 St Martin's Lane, London; upholder and cabinet maker (1779–1808)

The premises occupied by this partnership were on the corner of St Martin's Lane and Long Acre and the address is sometimes given as 1 Long Acre. Some directories also state 1 St Martin's Lane, but this would appear to be a misunderstanding based on the Long Acre number.

From its commencement the partnership was of a substantial nature. They claimed to be successors to the renowned upholder John Cobb, who died in 1778, and they undoubtedly took over many of his wealthy and influential patrons as well as his former business premises. In 1779 their insurance cover was £5,000 with £4,200 allocated to utensils and stock. By 1783 these figures had fallen to £4,000 and £3,000 respectively but even at these levels indicated that this was amongst the largest enterprises in this field in London.

A number of their clients are known. For the 6th Earl of Coventry at Croome Court, Worcestershire, substantial amounts of furniture were supplied in the period 1779–95. Much appears to have been bedroom furniture. In February 1785, £76 17s 5d was paid for a four-post bed, bedding, dressing tables, a wine cistern and curtains, and in August of that year a further substantial bill for £68 1s 2d covered a further bedstead and bedding, a night table, firescreen, curtains, and carving a pier glass frame. The largest single amount paid, for goods supplied in the year from June 1793, amounted to £137 19s 4d and was for similar items. The bills are transcribed in Beard, Furniture History (1993).

The Hon. Mrs Leigh of Stoneleigh Abbey, Warwickshire was in December 1781 invoiced for a satinwood tea caddy and workbox costing £4 9s, while in the following year William Constable of Burton Constable, Yorkshire, was supplied with a mahogany wheelchair costing £7 10s which is still in the house. Constable also bought from Litchfield & Graham a set of six japanned chairs with a pair of matching arms chairs and caned stools. Alexander Wedderburn paid the partners £26 16s 6d in 1784 and Baron de Grey of Heaton Hall, Manchester £7 in 1786 for a writing table. The accounts of Lord Monson show payments to the firm of £300 in June 1785, £200 in April 1787 and £133 12s in May 1789, while the 2nd Lord Palmerston used their services in connection with the furnishing of Broadlands, Hampshire.

From 1809 the business was carried on solely by John Graham. A payment to Litchfield, Morel & Co. is stated to exist for 1798 in the Southill, Bedfordshire accounts. Nothing further is however recorded under this trading style and the subsequent patronage of Graham in 1808 might suggest an error in the household accounts at Southill, rather than an intriguing connection between Nicholas Morel and the house of Litchfield & Graham.

Sources: Guildhall Library, Sun MS vol. 276, p. 650; vol. 306, p. 613; V & A archives; Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Leigh receipts, DR 18/5; Scottish Record Office, GD 164/Box 20/177/2–3; Preston, Record Office, DD Eg. bank deposit and account book; Lincoln Record Office, Monson 10/1/A/6; Country Life, 29 January 1981, p. 290; Beard, ‘Decorators and Furniture Makers at Croome Court’, Furniture History (1993).

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