This Highly Important George III Mahogany Breakfront Secretaire Bookcase made in circa 1785, by Henry Walker of Lancaster, for St. Anne’s Hill House, Chertsey, Surrey, the country residence of Charles Fox until his death in 1806.
Charles James Fox, 1749 – 1806, epitomized the 18th century concept of the ‘complete man’. He was a renowned dancer, drinker, womanizer, gambler and huntsman. He had blue blood in his veins, having been descended on his mother’s side from King Charles II. His mother was Lady Caroline Fox, 1st Baroness Holland, whilst his father, Henry Fox, 1st Baron Holland, was an important statesman. The family home was Holland House in Kensington, London, with 500 acres of parklands and estates, which stretched from Holland Park Avenue to the current day site of Earl’s Court tube station. Charles James Fox was educated at Eton and Hertford College, Oxford. An eminent Whig politician, he became the Country’s first ever Foreign Secretary in 1782, was an avid Anti – Slavery campaigner and supporter of American Independence and the town of Fox borough, Massachusetts in America was named in his honour. Charles Fox was given a state funeral and buried next to William Pitt in Westminster Abbey and a statue was raised in his honour in Bloomsbury Square, London in 1816. The secretaire bookcase is in three parts with the upper section having a bowed central arch, fitted with four lancet shaped glazed doors, while the central area of the base is fitted with a secretaire above and concealed drawers below. Of exceptional quality, the bookcase bears the makers stamp - H.Y.Walker, Lancaster. to the secretaire drawer. Henry Walker was a self-employed ‘journeyman’ cabinet maker, who variously worked for himself and Gillow of Lancaster from the early 1780s until 1806 and this bookcase mirrors closely design influences published by Gillows in the 1780s and 1790s. In 1805, Henry Walker set up his own business in Church Street, Lancaster, later announcing a move to new ‘commodious premises upon the Green area, nearly opposite the end of Chapel Street’, in 1813. His business flourished and he was made a freeman of Lancaster in 1823-24.