Miles, Henry & Edwards, John
134 Oxford St, London; furniture printers, upholsterers, cabinet makers and decorators (fl.1822–71)
Henry Miles, ‘dealer in Moreens and Printed Furniture’ at this address, took out a Sun Insurance policy on 26 February 1823 for £1,800, of which £1,500 accounted for utensils and stock. [Guildhall Library, Sun MS vol. 498, ref. 1001630] The firm of Miles & Edwards flourished from 1822–44, and appeared in directories in 1823 and 1835–39. In 1833 their upholstery stock was valued at £6,440, the cabinet ware at £1,640 and the timber at £2,135. In 1844 Miles & Edwards were taken over by Charles Hindley & Sons. Some sources have speculated that Edwards, probably the junior partner, may later have been connected with the firm of Edwards & Roberts, recorded in a London directory of 1854 as makers of reproduction furniture and restorers of antique furniture. However Miles & Edwards was listed in the London Post Office Directory 1871 still at 134 Oxford Street as cabinet makers, upholsterers and furniture printers - possibly the firm was still operating as a separate entity but under the ownership of Hindleys or another.
Several account books, journals, stock lists and letter books of Miles & Edwards survive, dating from 1825–44. The letter books record correspondence with patrons, such as D. Burton, Esq., to whom Miles & Edwards wrote on 16 August 1837: ‘Messrs. Miles & Edwards beg to return to Mr. Burton the sketch for the Sideboard made according to his instructions, for Mr. Briscoe & have marked the size upon it as desired.’ The sideboard had a plate glass back. [Westminster Ref. Lib., archives dept; Furn. Hist., 1970; Joy, English Furniture, 1800–1851, p. 261].
The firm had many prestigious patrons including, in 1830, the British Ambassador in Paris and the Empress of Russia; and in 1834 the Turkish Ambassador, to whom the firm was introduced by Lord Palmerston.
A number of the firm's commissions are documented: AUDLEY END, Essex, BILLINGBEAR, Berks. or 3rd Lord Braybrooke's London house. The firm received payments in June 1831 of £119 and £21 1s 6d; in December 1834, £7 9s 4d; in December 1836, £46 5s 10d; in June 1837, £2 10s 6d; and in December 1839, £27 13s ½d. [Essex Record Office, D/DBy/A358; A361; A363] BURTON CONSTABLE, Yorks. Miles & Edwards received a commission totalling £183 9s 3d. Furniture supplied included, in 1834, ‘2 handsome Gilded Cheval Screens carved in style of Louis Quatorze … Backs covered with India Silk Damask at 13 gns. £27.6.0.’; and an oval glass in a gilt frame, costing £2 2s. On 26 November 1834 the firm provided ‘Conversation Chairs richly carved & gilded with Foliage Ornaments stuffed seats etc.’, costing £15 15s; and on 29 February 1835, a ‘Vis a Vis Sofa with Gilded legs’, at £12 15s. [Humberside Record Office, Burton Constable papers; Furn. Hist., 1972]. A stamped chair and one of a pair of stools with the numbers 14691 and 14688 respectively are illustrated in Gilbert (1996), figs 641-643. HAMPTON COURT, Leominster, Herefs. Miles & Edwards submitted a bill to John Arkwright on 10 August 1842 for £21 14s 10d. [Herefs. Record Office, A63/161] HOPETOUN HOUSE, Lothian, Scotland. In 1834 the firm supplied a ‘Vis a Vis in blue Twell’, costing £8 8s; ‘A Rosewood Spanish Easy Chair’, £5 15s; ‘A Mahogany Fr. Bedstead w. Sideboard’, £12 12s; and ‘A Shaped Back Nelson Chaise Longue’, £4 10s. In 1838 they provided a ‘supply of chintz paper & of striped chintz’, costing £21 16s ½d; and in 1840 a ‘supply of silk striped tabouret’, at £45 0s 6d. [V&A archives] PANSHANGER, Herts. On 20 June 1833 Miles & Edwards, ‘Designers & Manufacturers of Superior Furniture’, supplied a ‘Marqueterie stand’ costing £1 18s; and ‘2 Mahogany tables with drawers’, £3 8s; and in 1835, ‘2 Genoa Chairs/Barbary seating’, £2 10s; ‘2 Sweep back Genoa Chairs’, £2 10s; and a mahogany book rest, 16s 6d. [Herts. Record Office, Panshanger, Box 56] STAFFORD HOUSE, London. In 1838 Miles & Edwards submitted a bill for £126 12s 11d. [Staffs. Record Office, D593/R/1/26/8] WYNYARD PARK, Co. Durham. Charles William Vane, Marquess of Londonderry, commissioned Miles & Edwards to supply furnishings, c. 1829–41. [Durham Record Office, Londonderry papers, D/LO/E 484, vol. 1829–41].
Many pieces of furniture survive bearing the stamp of Miles & Edwards, including a pair of rosewood chiffoniers, c.1830, with pierced brass three-quarter-galleried shelf supported on turned columns; the lower parts with a central set of open adjustable shelves with a cupboard door on either side, faced with gilt-metal trellis-work and divided by ring-turned pilasters; stamped with the numbers 4586 and 4587. [Sotheby's, 21 April 1972, lot 92; Furn. Hist., 1970, pls 34– 37] A set of six rosewood buckle-back pattern chairs at Broughton Hall, Yorks. are impressed with the firm's name and address, and the number 8232 (illus. Gilbert (1996), fig. 638). Four Rococo revival gilt chairs from Hitchin Priory, now in private ownership in Yorks., bear the firm's stamp, the number 12130, and the initials ‘I.G.’. A Regency bookcase, c.1820, also bears the stamp of Miles & Edwards; also a small Victorian chair, numbered 31821; also a fretwork armchair prie dieu, c.1830, with oval in the back painted with a scene of the ‘Temerère’, and ‘Trafalgar’, on a scroll; all three pieces are in private ownership. A set of rosewood chairs also bear the stamp of Miles & Edwards. [V&A archives]. Other examples of stamped furniture are illustrated in Gilbert (1996), figs 639, 640 and 642.
In 1830 George Harris, an employee of Edwards & Miles, was convicted of stealing a quantity of printed cotton and calico and John Edwards was a witness in the court hearing (Seventh Session, 1830).
Some of Miles & Edwards' records are kept at the Westminster Reference Library archive department.
Sources: DEFM; Gilbert, Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture 1700-1840 (1996).