‘The Three Golden Chairs’, Strand, London; upholder (1700–d. 1728)
Free of the Upholders’ Co., 23 September 1700. Took as app. Thomas Collins of St Ives, Hunts. 2 June 1709 and he was made free, 4 November 1719. In partnership with Jeremiah Fletcher, 1713–18. Died in 1728, and on 24 May an auction sale of his household goods and stock in trade was announced at ‘The Fountain Tavern’, near the Exeter Exchange, Strand. Phill was described as ‘upholsterer to Her late Majesty Queen Anne, to His late Majesty George I and to his present Majesty’. His extensive involvement as a supplier to the Crown is confirmed from archival sources. In 1713–14 he provided cases and cases curtains for furniture and a state bed at Windsor Castle, and in 1716 upholstered and provided bedding for a large state bed made by Richard Roberts, also for Windsor Castle. Extensively involved in the refurnishing of St James’s Palace for George I, 1715-16. For the House of Lords Phill supplied 90 Turkey work chairs, four table carpets and two leather folding stools in 1718 and in the same year for the House of Commons 48 Turkey work chairs. Such extensive commissions resulted in large payments which in one quarter of 1719 peaked at £1,233. Further furniture of a similar nature was supplied to the Houses of Parliament in 1722. In 1727 he made a cushion for the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey and upholstered the footstool in preparation for the Coronation of George II. In 1724 he is recorded in connection with the furnishing of the Church of St Mary-le-Strand, one of the projects promoted by the Commissioners for Building Fifty New Churches in London and Westminster. His only known commission away from the London region was at Canons Ashby, Northants. Between June 1711 and February 1714, he was employed here by Edward Dryden. The only new furniture was supplied on 22 January and 12 February 1714 and consisted of a ‘walnuttree Arm'd Chair frame… cover'd with black Spanish Leather and Garnished with laqued pillor nailes’ and ‘6 wallnuttree back chaires frames of ye newest fashion stufft up in Lynnen & ye seats coverd a 2nd time’. The ‘Arm'd Chaire’ was charged at £2 15s and the ‘back chaires’ at £7 10s with an additional charge for fitting them with needlework covers. This upholstery suite which was sold in the 1930s to meet death duties has now been reacquired by the National Trust and restored to the house.
Source: DEFM; Jackson-Stops, ‘A Set of Furniture by Thomas Phill at Canons Ashby’, Furniture History (1985); Bird, ‘The Furniture and Furnishing of St James's Palace’, Furniture History (2014).