Skip to main content

Trollope, Joseph; J & G Trollope; Trollope & Sons; George Trollope & Sons (1787-1890)

Trollope, Joseph; J & G Trollope; Trollope & Sons; George Trollope & Sons

London; cabinet makers, paper hangers, upholsterers and house agents (fl. 1787-1890) 

Ajeeb the Wonderful

Joseph Trollope set up as a wall paper hanger in St Marylebone moving to St George, Hanover Square and then in 1787 to 15 Parliament Street. He was a specialist in exotic wall paper, especially Chinese painted paper, with work undertaken at Lullingstone Castle, The Vyne (Hampshire) and Burghley House. He retired in 1800 [London Metropolitan Archive (LMA); letter book, 1787-1808].

In 1820 two of his son's, John Amos and George, established a partnership at the same address as paper hangers, carvers & gilders. By 1820 they were known as J & G Trollope when purchasing a Sun Alliance policy (11 April 1820) for £600 on stock and utensils in his house and John Amos later purchased a policy on his house at 13 Chapel Street, Stockwell [LMA, Royal and Sun Alliance Insurance Group, CLC/B/192]. 

Bill head
Copyright (Attribution/Credit)
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Bill head of J & G Trollope, Parliament Street, Paper Hanging Manufacturers, Decorators, House Painters, Carvers & Gilders, with part of a handwritten bill to Booth Esq, 1826 [Heal,91.56]. © The Trustees of the British Museum

In 1830 J & G Trollope became paper hanger to King George IV and in that year submitted a bill, headed by the Royal Arms, to John Arkwright of Hampton Court, Leominster, Herefordshire. for paper hangings, bill totalled £36 9s 3d listing ‘11 Pcs. Drab chintz stripe’, ‘6 doz Rose Flock border’, ‘10 Pcs. lilac Stripe’, ‘5 doz lilac & Green’, ‘11 Pcs. Rose Sprig’, ‘5 doz flock on Olive’, ‘2 Pcs. Drab stripe’, ‘2½ doz Flock’, ‘10 Pcs. lilac & green’ (annotated ‘Housekeeper’); ‘5 doz Flock on Satin’, ‘20 Pcs. Green on Shaded ground’ (annotated ‘Greenroof’); ‘9 doz Green flock Rope’, ‘20 … fine lining paper’, ‘Packing Canvass’ and ‘Porterage’. Bill totalled £36 9s 3d.  

George was trading alone at No. 17 Parliament Street by 1839. He had married Mary in 1817 and two of their sons, George Francis (1818-95) and Robert Leonard (1821-95) became partners with their father in 1843 and were listed as upholsterers at 15 & 17 Parliament Street in the 1845 London Post Office Directory.  George Francis Trollope became Upper Warden of the Painters Stainers Co. in 1870 and Master in 1872.

The firm expanded into interior decoration and by 1849 was also trading as an estate agency, letting and controlling property for the Grosvenor Estates. A separate branch of cabinet-makers, bearing the family name, was opened at West Halkin Street, becoming known as 'The Museum of Decorative Arts' (run by George Robinson). In 1851, the firm became formally known as George Trollope and Sons. The latter address was recorded in the listing for the firm in The Furniture Gazette Directory, 1876 & 1877. [LMA, Trollope and Colls 1778-1978; GLHL outsize 35.33 TRO]. 

By the beginning of the 1850 George Trollope and Sons were evidently established cabinet makers because they participated in the 1851 Great Exhibition. Their display included a ‘sideboard elaborately carved in oak representing hunting and fishing’ and although not mentioned in the catalogue, the jury reports referred to ‘bed and toilet furniture’, of which the marquetry work on the toilet mirror and chest were praised by Digby Wyatt. About 20 different woods were used in this bed & toilet furniture including ‘holly, cornwood, tulip, sandal, purplewood, ebony, Barbary wood, Russian maple, mulberry, kingwood, amboynas, walnut and porcupine wood’ [1851 exhibits illus. The Decorative Arts Society (2001), p. 88 & Meyer (2006), p.32]. At the 1855 Paris Exhibition they showed ‘marquetry furniture of stained woods’ including a wardrobe and a bookcase, the carving on which was arranged by a former pupil of the School of Design, Richard Beavis.

Their cabinet making and interior decorating enterprise expanded. An entry in Lady Frederick Cavendish’s diary of 13 December 1864 noted, ‘Thence to our splendid mansion No 21 Carlton House Terrace, where we met my old Meries and Mr Talbot and Trollope, the builder-and-furnisher’s man’. In 1865 they had premises in four locations: Parliament Street; West Halkin Street; the Belgrave Works; and Grosvenor Street West. 

By the early 1860s it is likely that they were employing French craftsmen and by 1865, were certainly using French suppliers for enamel plaques. At the 1862 London International Exhibition the firm exhibited a carved chimney piece, decorations, and a cabinet. Either this cabinet (or another not listed, but exhibited in 1862) was reputedly from North Park, Epsom (the property of Lord Egremont), designed by Richard Beavis. Carved in solid ebony by Mark Rogers, it incorporated marquetry panels, lion masks in gilt bronze and embellished with porcelain ovals by Copeland. The cabinet received favourable reviews from The Jury and The London Illustrated News. It was sold for £680 at Sotheby's Belgravia in 1973 and then for £150,000 at Sotheby’s London (1997). The 1862 Lombardic-style chimney piece, again designed by Beavis and modelled by Rogers, had a fire-surround in carved stone by W Field and fire irons and grate by Feetham of Clifford Street from models by Mr Baylis (illus. The Decorative Arts Society (2001), p. 90). The firm also exhibited a walnut sideboard with a wine-cooler in 1862 (illus. Meyer (2006), p. 165).

They exhibited an ebony and marble mounted cabinet at the Dublin Exhibition, 1865 (Section XXVI, exh. 726) and then at the Paris Exhibition, 1867. It reappeared at a bank in Sweden and was sold at Sotheby’s London, 6 October 2000 (illus. The Decorative Arts Society (2001), pp. 90 & 92). The Jury reports from the French Exhibition, 1867 recorded Trollope’s display which included: two cabinets-credences in Italian renaissance style and another cabinet-credence (illus. The Decorative Arts Society (2001), p. 91); a drawing room table in ebony; another table of the same model; a renaissance style octagonal table; and a walnut sideboard. The octagonal table and a salon table both sold (Sotheby’s London, 5 July 1996) along with another similar salon table and a sideboard (illus. The Decorative Arts Society (2001), pp. 91, 93-95 & Meyer (2006), p.182). 

They were the makers of a table, c.1867, of mahogany, veneered, carved and moulded, with mounts, formerly in the Charles and Lavinia Handley-Read collection, now at the V&A.  

Sofa table
Copyright (Attribution/Credit)
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Mahogany table veneered with walnut and other woods, decorated with carving and marquetry, 1867. [W30:1 to 3-1972]. ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London

In 1868 Trollope and Sons altered the frames and regilded two pier glasses in the drawing room, originally supplied by Morel and Hughes at Weston Park. Trollope did not exhibit such highly rated objects at the 1878 Paris Exhibition ​as at previous exhibitions; items included a large mirror frame carved in limewood in renaissance style and a satinwood cabinet in Adam revival style, with a similar armchair (illus. Meyer (2006), p. 242) and probably two rooms; one was a boudoir in cedar wood in Queen Anne style and the other was a boudoir decorated by the firm in the theme of Pope’s The Rape of Lock. They also exhibited the new technique of xylatechnography and sgraffito, methods of impressing coloured design into soft wood and engraving veneer to reveal the base wood. Trollope & Sons did not show at the Paris exhibitions of 1889 or 1890. Although they opened a branch at Bold Street, Liverpool in 1890, this was probably when they ceased trading. 

Several commissions were recorded in The Furniture Gazette:  

  • Furnishing for Fairlawns, Tonbridge, Kent for Edward Cazalet [14 November 1874 & 13 February 1875]
  • Interior fittings for Knoyle House, Wiltshire, for Alfred Seymour [7 February 1880]
  • With J. E. Knox of Lambeth, a carved oak pulpit for St Martin’s Church, Brighton [8 January 1881] 

A pair of Regency painted beechwood and caned armchairs with back bars between uprights painted with Greek figure silhouettes on cream ground, and plain bar below, bears a stamp of Trollope & Sons. The painting now blackened, was probably originally dark green; on ring turned legs, with scroll arms. [Bonham's, 4 November 1982, lot 119].

A mark of ‘G. Trollope & Sons, 15 Parliament St.’ was recorded on simulated rosewood Davenport with ormolu galleried ledge and sloping leather-lined flap enclosing a well; fitted with slides each side and four drawers on the right; the front inlaid with an oval foliate panel between scrolled brackets on concave-fronted base mounted with foliate border and turned gadrooned feet. [Christie's, 29 June 1978, lot 31, illus.].

Sources: DEFM; Agius, British Furniture 1880-1915 (1978); Rogers, ‘A Regency Interior.  The Remodelling of Weston Park’, Furniture History (1987); Meyer, ‘Trollope and Sons – Makers and Exhibitors of Fine Furniture’, The Decorative Arts Society 1850 to the Present (2001); Meyer, Great Exhibitions. London, New York, Paris, Philadelphia, 1851-1900 (2006); Wallis, ‘A Hand-List of the Handley-Read Collection’, The Decorative Arts Society 1850 to the Present (2016).