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English or Continental, circa 1670 - 1700
Box Height 12.5’ (32cm) Width 22” (56cm) Depth 13” (33cm)
Stand Width 24” (61cm) Depth 15.5” (39cm)Total Height 41” (104cm)
Stock No. 9481
Strongboxes such as these fulfilled an important function in keeping money, valuables and documents secure when travelling and in 17th century houses where there was very little privacy. In this example,to the sides of the box, two covers conceal a pair of steel screws, which were intended to secure the box to the floor of one’s apartments or to the floor of the carriage when travelling.Such rare and valuable caskets were potent symbols of the wealth and importance of their owners. Brazilian kingwood is a member of the rosewood family and is so known because it was the favoured wood of French kings for their furniture.
Rare and valuable, this magnificent kingwood strongbox dates to circa 1670-1700 and may either be English or Continental. However, both the V & A and the National Trust suggest that the ones in their inventories are English. It has descended through the Seagrave family for several generations, after it was reputedly given to a member of that family by the Marquis of Northampton in the early 1800s, in recognition of friendship and loyalty. The Seagraves were a family of clerics living at Castle Ashby, Whatcote and variously close by in the locality of Warwickshire, Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire for a number of generations, with two of them being appointed chaplains to the Compton family, the Marquises of Northampton. Edward and his son John served in that capacity between 1774 and 1836 both at Castle Ashby and Compton Wynyates, Northampton’s seat and country residence at that time. The latter is still currently the private home of the Compton family. John Seagrave was presented to Castle Ashby by the Marquis of Northampton in 1805, following the death of the former incumbent, his father, Edward. Edward’s father, Samuel, was to become the first in a long line of gentlemen from the family to graduate with an M.A. from either Oxford or Cambridge, his being from Clare Hall, Cambridge, in 1727. His sons and grandsons followed suit in both the 18th and 19th centuries, with M.A.s from various Oxford University colleges, notably Magdalen Hall, University, Worcester and Christ Church. As well as being rectors at Castle Ashby, the Seagrave family were patrons and rectors of the parish of Westcote Barton in Oxfordshire for a large part of the 19th century.
The mahogany stand was made at a later date to display the casket as a piece of furniture. The legs are chamfered and moulded, the frieze with blind fretwork in the Chinese Chippendale style of the mid 18th century period.