Original furniture returns to Stowe House after 155 years

Stowe House is pleased to announce the return of an original piece of furniture, 155 years after it was sold. The Soane table is part of a trio, consisting of a pair of side tables and an octagonal table, all of the same design in ebonised mahogany and ivory. This table is one of the side tables, with its twin currently on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
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The suite was designed by Sir John Soane for the Gothic Library (also designed by Soane) around 1805 but was sold in the Great Stowe Sale of 1848 to a Mr P. Box, for a total of £36 4 shillings (about £5,200 today), when the house and estate lost most of its prized possessions.

It's thought that the suite stayed together until it was purchased in around the 1960s by Charles and Lavinia Handley-Read as they built up a large Victorian collection – the story goes that the tables were acquired 'off the pavement in Portobello Road, on a wet Saturday afternoon'. When they died in 1971, the whole collection was put up for sale in 1972 and the collection scattered – the other side table went to the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the octagonal table went to the Brighton and Hove Museum, (currently on loan to Stowe House). The other side table was purchased by Clive and Jane Wainwright to add to their collection. It's from this collection that this table comes home to Stowe.

Take a Secrets of Stowe tour

Gothic Library at Stowe House with returned Sir John Soane tableGothic Library at Stowe House with returned Sir John Soane table
Gothic Library at Stowe House with returned Sir John Soane table
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The table will be displayed in the room it was originally designed for, the Gothic Library. Although this is now the Stowe School Headmaster's study, members of the public will be able to see it, and the octagonal table, on a Secrets of Stowe tour. Upcoming dates: 22 & 24 February at 1pm. Adults £12, Under 16s £8. Book your tickets online at www.stowehouse.org.

The item was purchased with the generous support of the Bequest Trust to display at Stowe House. Part of the Hall Bequest's remit is to purchase historic items that help the Stowe House Preservation Trust to further understand Stowe House and this table allows us to begin to see the Gothic Library of how Sir John Soane envisioned it.

Sir John Soane (1753–1837) was a prominent British architect known for his innovative and eclectic style, blending classical elements with innovative spatial arrangements and inventive use of light. He gained recognition for his work on notable buildings such as the Bank of England and his own home, the Sir John Soane's Museum in London, which showcases his exceptional talent for creating atmospheric and captivating spaces. He was commissioned by the Marquess of Buckingham in 1805 to design the Gothic Library at Stowe House which was completed over the following two years.

The Stowe House Preservation Trust is an independent charity and depends on visitor income and donations to fund restoration work. Please speak to a member of the team or visit the website to find out more about how you can support us.