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Taprell, Stephen & Holland, William; Taprell, Holland & Son (1803-1843)

Taprell, Stephen & Holland, William; Taprell, Holland & Sons

London; cabinet makers, upholsterers, chair and sofa manufacturers (c. 1803–1843)

Taprell is recorded at St James's, Westminster (1806–07); 25 Great Pulteney Street (1815–26) and also at 19 Mary-le-Bonne Street (1817–51) with workshops in Bridle Lane, Westminster (1839) and manufactory at 6 Silver Street (1826–43).  Electoral registers also listed him with a house in Clarges Street (1839). The firm of Taprell, Holland & Son operated c. 1815–43 and was succeeded by Holland and Sons.  

Stephen Taprell was apprenticed to William Quint, cabinet maker of Ashburton, Devon in 1789 and he was probably the Stephen Taperell who subscribed to Sheraton's Cabinet Dictionary, 1803. He married Hannah Holland in Westminster, May 1805 (in the presence of William Holland). Hannah died aged 24 and was buried on 30 March 1806, shortly after having given birth to a son, Stephen jnr. on 15 March 1806.  On 4 December 1806, Taprell bound James Potter jnr as an apprentice for seven years for £48 [The National Archive (TNA), IR 1/40]. Taprell, who was recorded living at Grosvenor Street, Hanover Square in 1839, remained the senior partner in the business, until William Holland took over in 1843. Taprell was listed at 4 Clarendon Place, Maida Hill in 1845.

The existence of a deed relating to land in Chelsea purchased by Henry Holland (the architect and his cousin, Richard Holland) is lodged in the V&A among other documents relating entirely to the furnishing firm, thus pointing to a family connection between William Holland and Henry, the Regency architect. Book I of the Holland Records reveals much evidence of a close business relationship between the Taprell-Holland partnership and a prosperous building and timber firm: Copland, Rowles and Holland. In that firm, Alexander Copland was a successful builder who had been trained by Richard Holland. Henry Rowles was Henry Holland's nephew; the third partner was originally the architect himself.

It seems not unlikely that out of the speculative development of Hans Town, East Chelsea, between the 1770s and 1790s by Henry Holland (d. 1806), and his master builder father, Henry Holland snr (d. 1785), came the evolution of the building and timber firm, Copland, Rowles and Holland. As that firm had its own brickworks, sawpits and building tradesmen, it would have been in its own interest to foster a related cabinet-making business. The closeness of the relationship is suggested by a later note of 1826 in which a payment of £156 18s 6d was made to Taprell and Holland ‘by timber from Messrs Copland, Rowles and Holland’. The need for a furnishing firm may have become apparent when that building firm developed the Albany (1803–04) as residential chambers for wealthy men who did not require large town houses. One such gentleman was Henry Holland's bachelor son Henry, who occupied chambers in Albany for many years.

The special connection between the building and furnishing firms is further emphasised by the evidence of a bill of 1825 for Taprell-Holland furniture supplied to L. Holland, the architect's second son, Col. Launcelot Holland, being met by a credit of timber from Messrs Copland and Co.

Important commissions for the Taprell & Holland and Taprell, Holland & Son included:

  • The Union Club, London, 1823, dining chairs and dinner tables
  • The Athenaeum, London, 1824–38. Before the Athenaeum club house, designed by Decimus Burton, was ready in 1830 Taprell and Holland supplied to the Club's temporary quarters at 12 Waterloo Place in 1824 ‘20 dinner tables and 5 dozen chairs of the same pattern and price as those supplied to the Union Club’ and lent other needed items. Burton, working in close association with the Club, provided drawings for some fittingly Grecian style furniture and supervised its production by Taprell and Holland. They continued to supply this and their own stock productions until 1830 and again later, as the Club's needs grew, to a final total of £6,700. The firm's records of the period 1826–35 have been lost but a list of the Athenaeum's furniture is available in the Club's Inventory of 1831. Holland's listings of the pre-1826 furniture suggest characteristic Regency forms. There are dining tables ‘on pillars and 3 claws each’, Pembroke tables with turned legs, ‘sofa tables on Grecian stands’, circular tables on pillars and triangular bases; chairs are: ‘stained rosewood with tablet tops and caned seats’, ‘gondola chairs with cushions in blue leather’, ‘mahogany with tablet tops, seats French stuffed’, ‘zebra wood chairs with scroll over tops, loose seats French stuff'd w/t best hair covered in crimson and drabstripe’ and Grecian couches are specified ‘with squabs and bolsters’. Much furniture was designed specifically for the principal reception rooms where much still remains along with replacements and later additions. A good deal of stock furniture was also supplied for servants’ bedrooms. Taprell and Holland also made a gallery, to Burton's design, for the library in 1832 and in 1835 they supplied furniture and worked to convert the Map Room into a second library [Athenaeum Inventory Book, 1830–39; Furniture. History, 1970; Holland Records Book, I, 1824–26, p. 56 etc.; Book II 1835– 39, pp. 12, 318; Humphrey Ward, History of the Athenaeum 1824–1925, 1926; H. Clifford Smith, An Inventory and Valuation of the Furniture etc. of the Athenaeum, 1939, typescripts in Libraries of the Athenaeum and Victoria & Albert]
  • Ickworth, Suffolk, 1826–27. Pair of X frame chairs in East Corridor [National Trust Guide, 1981, p. 16]
  • Arundel Castle, c. 1839–42.  Tapule (sic) Holland and Son supplied a ‘Mahogany Foldg. Top Tea Table’ to Viscount Fitzalan for £2 8s [Arundel Castle Records, A2095].
  • The papers of James Brogden, MP, record payments to Taprell & Holland in 1820 of £2 for a ‘Mahog. Trafalgar Chair w.t Roll over Tablet Top, Rounded sides loose seat Stuffd. w.t best Hair finish in Red Morrocco leather & brass molding’ A note on the reverse of the bill reads: ‘The former Chairs were charged covered in Hair seating w.t brass moldings @ 37/. Covering in Red Morocco leather extra 2/9. The full charge of chair 39/9’.
  • All Souls College, Oxford, c.1840. A set of 25 single and 2 arm chairs in heavy mahogany with carved ribbons and two little shields on top rails, backs and seats stuffed and buttoned, turned legs carved with pendant leaves [label seen but now missing].
  • Oxford & Cambridge Club [Holland Records, Victoria & Albert Museum, 1835–40, O–S; 1846–47, H–Q]
  • Reform Club [Holland Records, Victoria & Albert Museum, 1835–40, O–S; 1843–45, O–T]
  • United Service Club [Holland Records, Victoria & Albert Museum, 1836–39, T–Z]
  • British Museum [Holland Records, Victoria & Albert Museum 1839–42, A–F] 
  • Arthurs Club [Holland Records, Victoria & Albert Museum, 1839–42, A–F]
  • Clarence Club [Holland Records, Victoria & Albert Museum, 1839–42, A–F]
  • Albion Club [Holland Records, Victoria & Albert Museum, 1839–42, A–F] 

A Regency rosewood writing table recorded with rounded rectangular top and two drawers in a plain frieze framed by scrolled volutes on panelled trestle ends, bar supports and turned feet; stencilled ‘From Tapwell, Holland & Sons, Upholsterers &c., Gt. Pulteney St., Golden Sq., London’. [Christie's, 27 January 1983, lot 147].

Pauline Agius mentions a commission for Harewood House in her DEFM entry for the firm but with no further details.

Stephen Taprell, William Holland & William Holland jun., Marylebone Street, upholsterers, were the petitioners of the fiat (proposition), for bankruptcy of John Wheeler of 9 & 10 Princes Street, Hanover Square, tailor, lodging housekeeper, dlr. & ch., dated 28 May 1830 [Perry’s Bankruptcy Gazette, 30 May 1840].

Taprell died in 1847 (aged 73) and was buried in the Holland family vault in Kensal Green Cemetery. A man of some substance, he had owned several properties including 29 Hertford Street, 24 Chester Terrace and houses in Maida Vale and Tunbridge Wells. His estate was valued at £3,157 and in his will he bequeathed an annuity to his widowed sister, Elizabeth Bowden, of Ashburton, Devon. Other beneficiaries were members of the Holland family. The esteem in which he was held by the Holland family is shown by the fact that William Holland's second son James (the senior partner of the firm from 1851–72), named his first two sons Stephen Taprell and George Taprell (Holland).

Sources: DEFM; Jervis, ‘Holland and Sons, and the Furnishing of the Athenaeum’, Furniture History (1970).

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